When it comes to today's youth, a lot of people just throw their hands up in the air, and say "I give up!"
Personally, I find this quite fascinating. Its as if adults today have completely forgotten what it was like going through puberty, issues at home, low self esteem, peer pressure, zero freedom and the pressures society put's on each of us to act, look, and be a certain way.
Oh, wait a second... what's really changed in most people's lives since being a teenager? Once your boobs come in and you get a bit of armpit hair, don't we all still go through this stuff every single day? The only difference is school is replaced by work!
Maybe the only thing that really changes is that we feel more in control as adults, of where we are headed, our destiny... and maybe that's all some teenagers need to gain some ownership over their issues!
I know for me personally, looking back on everything I went through as a teenager; puppy fat which never really went away, pimples which came back recently, peer pressure to drink (which I still get now as a sober 33 year old, even after making it pretty clear I had a drinking issue from the age of 16 after being sexually assaulted and started self medicating), self esteem and body image issues... not much has changed. Except, I now have the freedom to do what I want... within reason of course. I can go and buy some cream for my pimples without asking Mum for money. I can eat healthy and exercise without criticism, I can ignore idiots who call me weak for not drinking! All because a little bit of self control, self confidence and self esteem go a long way!
Looking back, the best thing I ever did was take on mentors. They were all unofficial, either family friends, older cousins, work colleagues, bosses, anyone who I could use as a role model. I never really found those things in TV stars, or Pop stars, but in everyday people who I spent actual time with.
As I've gotten older, and made my own way and own money, I've realised the importance of having a more official mentor or coach. Someone to help you recognise your goals, so that you can move forward and reach them is priceless. Having someone to motivate you, spur you forward and keep you moving is one of the best things you can do for yourself. So, why shouldn't our youth, who are at such a critical time in their lives, have the benefit of this?
Think back to who were the main influences in your life. Parents, siblings, school friends, sports teams, sports coaches, teachers, cousins, neighbors and many more. Who were the positive influences and who were the negative? Don't you now wish you took more notice of the positive one's? Don't you now wish you could offer that sort of mentoring to your own children?
There are many programs that cater for this type of service. There are Youth Center's run by council's and not for profit organisations, Youth Participation and Engagement Workers, Big Brother and Big Sister programs. Some are more activity based, some are more personal.
One of the better programs I have seen is run in Adelaide, however, they do engage with clients Australia wide. They are called The Dream Initiative, and have extensive experience with youth mentoring. Many parents feel like their child's challenges are unique, however, through a lot of research, Trudi and Ben at The Dream Initiative have found that there are many common challenges teenagers face.They have created a video identifying these key barriers, you can get a copy by clicking on the picture below:
Thinking back to what I wish I had as a teen in regards to a mentor, and what I hope a lot more youth today get, got me thinking about my own client's and how some of them feel so stuck in their own world or house, or even wheelchair.
Often the people who should be asking people with disabilities about their goals and how they want to move forward and become more independent, don't ask, they tell. Whether its parents, case managers, children, public advocates, or administrators, there is a level of control taken out of individuals hands that often makes them feel powerless. Not to say that these people don't mean well, or don't have the individuals best interests at heart, but sometimes there is a sense of
Everybody has their own interests to look after as well, whether it is consciously or sub-consciously. They have deadline's to meet, other family members to think of, budgets etc. But the individual needs to have their say and need's to make their own way as independently as possible for them.
This is why Wyngate Care started our own mentoring program.
With a very holistic approach, looking at the whole situation for the individual, including living arrangements, finances, diet, exercise, medications, diagnosis, relationships, school or work issues.
Wyngate Care caters specifically for people with disabilities and/or mental illness, and also for people with behaviors of concern such as violence, substance abuse, or self harming. We can work one on one, or with the whole family, depending on the individual situation.
With our program, we have a 'no bullshit policy' where everyone is involved and everything is put out on the table. Everybody has to be on the same page, and have personal goals and also family goals. In some cases its a straight one on one scenario, other times its a full family affair. Where there are behaviors of concern, we use a positive behavior intervention approach.
Wyngate Care also offers this service as a package, running over 10 weeks, families receive face to face and phone consultations so we can gather as much information about what's happening at home, what the issues are, whether the person wants 1:1 coaching to achieve their goals, or whether its a whole family at their wits end in need of some help.
Once the needs have been established, a mentor is hand chosen and we get down to the nitty gritty, really getting into every tiny detail of what needs to be achieved to help everyone involved. This is where all the cards are out on the table, and where rapport and trust is established.
Often we find that the people who need the most help, are the siblings. They often feel forgotten growing up with a sibling with a disability, and in some cases have turned to self harm or substance abuse. This can be very confronting for the family, and everyone always feels like they are to blame. These issues need to be talked about in a safe and loving environment.
After the initial consultations, weekly one on one face to face mentoring sessions are organised, plus weekly phone calls and skype sessions. This can be used for one person, or spread out for the whole family. These sessions are amazing, and can bring families together and help individuals reach their full potential!
Part of this package is also counselling sessions with a qualified psychologist where required, plus Positive Behavior Intervention Workshops, Anger Management, Life Skills and much more!
If you are a person with a disability wanting help reaching your full potential, or if you are a family at breaking point requiring some help, please feel free to contact us on ph: 1300 767 290 or
email email@example.com for more information
While your at it, why not check out this cool video from The Dream Initiative too!
Until next time!
Nicole Makin-Doherty is the Managing Director of Wyngate Care, a community services organisation specialising in Disability Care, Aged Care, Home and Community Care, Counselling, Youth Outreach and much more.
Visit Wyngate Care here
Contact Nicole at:firstname.lastname@example.org
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