The Pass It On Project – Phase II is a mentorship program, which partners young high school women with Grade 8 girls. The aim is to foster connections and friendships, which promote the health and safety of young women and girls. Funding from the Status of Women Canada has enabled SWOVA to support mentorship projects in 5 BC communities – Salt Spring Island, Kamloops, Valemount/McBride, Prince George and Ucluelet. Each community is at a different stage of implementation but what is certain, is that young high school women are excited and empowered to support younger girls, because they know what it feels like to feel uncertain, insecure, eager to please, curious about life and others, and to want to be accepted.
During the training on Salt Spring Island, the high school mentors created their list of what it means to be a mentor:
Be an observer; Offer to help and care; Ask questions; Talk through the issue; Be generous and focused; Be genuine; Share your knowledge and past experiences; Make the other person feel comfortable; Teach/ Be proactive; No cross-talk; Be an ear and listen only; Give time; Give small gestures a hug, a pat on the back, a high 5, congratulations, a smile; Be empathic; Be neutral; No judgment; Maintain a positive/happy demeanour; Go out of your way; Be a good person – a role model; Include your buddy – notice her; Offer encouragement – compliment her; Provide comforting words; Share your feelings.
After the training, all the girls expressed some anxiety about meeting the list of expectations they had set out for themselves. Regardless, they all are eager to meet their buddy and begin their partnerships. On Salt Spring Island, the mentor/buddy partnerships will begin the week of January 17th. The project concludes on May 31st. The learning will last a lifetime.
by Chris Gay
(Pass It On Coordinator)