Earlier this year I visited our Matheson Afterschool Program, and saw the coolest thing – our high school peer mentors teaching the junior high kids, who then taught elementary school kids. It was peer mentoring at its finest. The high school peer mentors had taught the junior high kids a curriculum called Health Rocks, which includes hands-on activities that educate youth on the consequences of tobacco, alcohol and drug use. The junior high kids then went to an elementary school afterschool program and taught the elementary kids the curriculum. It was so impressive!
Youth Services has implemented a Peer Mentoring program for almost a decade, and I have to say it has been pretty successful! In fact, one of our original Peer Mentors from our very first peer mentor group is now a full time merit employee at Youth Services. Others have gone on to serve on youth leadership committees in their schools and communities.
A current peer mentor, Andrea says:
Being a peer mentor means being able to help others. I get the opportunity to interact with them and help them with their academics. Being a peer mentor is like being a role model to the kids. I know that I must set a good example for the kids to follow and teach them things that I know will help them in the future. Being a peer mentor has helped me become a better listener. I have also obtained more communication skills and teaching skills. For me, being a peer mentor has made a great impact in my life because I have the opportunity to gain experience as a leader and help out teenagers.
According to the Mentoring Resource Center, there are many benefits to a peer mentoring program:
- Cross-age peer programs provide growth and learning opportunities for both mentors and mentees, resulting in a “double impact.”
- For mentees, these programs have shown a positive impact on:
– Connectedness to school and peers
– Feelings of competency and self-eﬃcacy
– Grades and academic achievement
– Pro-social behavior and attitudes
- For mentors, there have been reported improvements in:
– Connectedness to school
– Empathy and moral reasoning
– Intrapersonal communication and conﬂict resolution skills
– Relationships with parents
What are your experiences with peer mentor programs?