Youth mentoring is the process of matching mentors with young people who need or want a caring, responsible adult in their lives. Adult mentors are usually unrelated to the youth and work as volunteers through a community, school, or an organizational service program. The goal of youth mentoring programs is to improve the well-being of the youths by providing a role model that can support them academically, socially and/or personally. This goal can be accomplished through school work, communication, and/or activities.

At ACFODE, it is our culture to hold the “Decide Now” Mentoring Program for the youth. Decide Now is one component of a program that involves other elements, such as tutoring or life skills training and coaching. The supportive, healthy relationships formed between mentors and mentees are both immediate and long-term and contribute to a host of benefits for mentors and mentees.

Benefits for youth from this program include: improved graduation rates, healthier relationships and lifestyle choices, better attitude about school, and higher educational aspirations, enhanced self-esteem and self-confidence, improved behavior, both at home and at school, stronger relationships with parents, teachers, and peers, improved interpersonal skills among others.

Mr. Richard Makumbi orienting the young people.
Mr. Richard Makumbi orienting the young people.

‘Decide Now’ not only benefits mentees but  their mentors as well in ways such as increasing their  self-esteem,  gives them a sense of accomplishment, creates for them new networks of volunteers,  gives them insight into childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood, improves soft skills like increased patience and improved supervisory skills among others. As a way of creating new discoveries and understanding, the program avails people from outside a youth’s everyday world. The latter cooperate to enhance a youth’s situation, giving the community a stake in her or his future. This sort of interaction also opens new opportunities and understanding for mentors and mentees previously unavailable due to too many barriers, prejudices, or lack of options.

The program offers a cheap, fast way to pass valuable skills and knowledge from person to person. Passing opportunities along from one person to another helps ensure that those living in a community have the ability to maintain and improve it. This program provides great publicity for the mentor, who can “show off” their experience, and for the participants to show off their newly gained personal skills.

Among the reasons for starting up the ‘Decide Now’ mentoring program included; giving people who don’t have many life options hope for a better future, building everyone’s self-esteem. The knowledge and alternatives gained through the ‘Decide Now’ Program allow youths to explore different career possibilities not often available in a classroom or work setting. It breaks down stereotypes surrounding certain professions and populations and also promotes awareness of a community’s diversity. “Decide Now’ program builds teamwork through learning shares which occur either in a group or on a one to one sharing.

Participants relating with each other during the first session of the mentoring program
Participants relating with each other during the first session of the mentoring program

This year’s program started with three consecutive Saturdays of orientation in July and thereafter kicked off with the first session on August 19th.  The program runs for a year and we meet once a month, the turn up for the first session was really amazing and we have a total of 153 participants (99) female & (54) male. This mentoring is beneficial and youth are able to learn collectively in a group setting that is to say career oriented mentoring, where the focus is to encourage future success of the individual by bringing in successful professionals as mentors.

In the first session of this year, Mr. Peter Byansi, ‎a lecturer and a consultant in Public Health was the main facilitator and he took the team through “Personal Development” Personal development covered activities to deal with; improved awareness and identity, developing talents and potential, building human capital and facilitation of employability, enhancing the quality of life and contributing to the realization of dreams and aspirations.

Mr. Byansi Peter, one of the facilitators of the mentorship program.
Mr. Byansi Peter, one of the facilitators of the mentorship program.

Peter informed the youth that personal development also included developing other people. This may take place through roles such as those of a mentor, either through a personal competency or through a professional service such as providing training, assessment or coaching.

“Beyond improving oneself and developing others, personal development labels a field of practice and research. As a field of practice, it includes personal development methods, learning programs, assessment systems, tools, and techniques. With this, young people learnt that they can be anything they want if they set their heart to it. Peter also talked about identifying your strengths and weaknesses as a person and then working on those weaknesses and improving on your strengths. Eventually, participants were tasked to write down their strengths and weakness and share them with their colleagues and then figure out solutions to their weaknesses,” Peter said.

Furthermore, he related character to personal development. He broke down Character as C-Commitment, H-Honesty, A-Availability, R-Reliable, A-Admirable, C-Caring, T-Trustworthy, E-Exemplary, & R-Responsible. If a youth exhibited all these qualities, they may always stand and can succeed in whatever they do and what they set their heart on.

A participant makes a presentation on her strengths & weaknesses
A participant makes a presentation on her strengths & weaknesses

In regard to personal development, execution is considered. “Time is the most important goal. For one to succeed, they should be time conscious and always use the time they have to add something good in their life,” Peter added. He also talked about acting on lead measures and keeping a scoreboard having everything one plans to achieve and what they have achieved.

Lastly, he encouraged the youth to be accountable for all that they decided to do with their lives. This, he explained means that one lives a responsible life and when one is truly responsible, one believes that success or failure is up to them.

Endeavor to be part of the next ‘Decide Now Mentoring Session”, & feel free to take part in the online conversation using the hashtag #DecideNow2017. Twitter: @acfode Facebook: ACFODE

 

Sentumbwe Edward

Public Relations & Communications Department

esentumbwe@acfode.org

‘Decide Now !’ An Exciting Youth Empowerment & Mentorship Program by ACFODE

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