Mentoring should be a non-hierarchical relationship between youth and adults, adults and youth, or among youth themselves, that helps facilitate learning and guidance for each participant. Roles for youth as mentors can position them as equitable partners with adults who work together to build skills, share knowledge and transform communities in mutually engaging, intentional relationships.
Ways Youth Can Change The World Through Mentoring
Youth Community Builders — Youth can mentor adults about all sorts of issues, including their culture, communities, education and more. In these relationships, adults are committed to learning from young people about issues, actions, ideas and wisdom that adults should know, and often do not know.
Youth/Adult Partnerships — Focused on creating equitable relationships between young people and adults, youth/adult partnerships can happen in nonprofits, schools, government agencies and other places that want to promote youth engagement.
Family Settings — Acknowledging adults don’t know everything because of their ages or titles in life, mentorships at home can extend across family lines and home settings. Grandparents can learn from young people, parents can listen to their children for guidance, and families can reflect everyone’s priorities.
Things Youth Need to Change the World through Mentoring
Research — Youth can create their own mentoring approaches by researching community needs. Whether examining local media, conducting interviews with select groups of adults, or reviewing social media, youth can learn from research.
Training — Participating in learning activities with adults as co-learners can help establish the basis for youth mentoring programs by creating lasting activities, outcomes and attitudes. Establishing common perspectives can challenge misconceptions and promote tighter connections between everyone involved in mentoring, too.
Motivation — After 5, 10 or 18 years of being young, sometimes youth can become disillusioned or disengaged from forming healthy relationships with adults. Motivation is a tool that can encourage everyone to re-engage, reconnect and reignite their spirit of community, democracy and social change, all of which can happen in mentoring.
- Tutor/Mentor Exchange
- “Youth mentoring adults” by Broader Perspectives blog
- “Reciprocal mentoring: Rethinking the traditional model” by Laura Maki and Jennifer Preston
- “Reciprocal mentoring with millennials” by Karen Firestone for Huffington Post
Other tools are out there, too – share your thoughts in the comments below! For more information about how The Freechild Project can support youth engagement in mentoring in your community or organization, contact us.