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Raising the Village: How to Build a Mentoring Program that Supports a Stable Community

A unique aspect of FYR is Lit is our cross-generational mentoring component. LIT leaders are provided with tools, time to practice the tools and the opportunity to reflect on what worked well with the FYR participants and what could have gone better. Mentoring is imperative in any stage of life. When taught how to work with and learn from people of other ages early on – one is more comfortable in these relationships as they get older and are exploring careers and navigating adult decisions. It’s a beautiful cycle that FYR is LIT remains committed to because we believe in the value of mentoring and more important, we believe in supporting our mentors so that they feel successful- even during short term failures and sometimes daily challenges.

Five ways that we ensure this occurs throughout the FYR is LIT program are:

Invitational conversations between mentor and mentee

1) Fill the toolbox: Equip mentors with games, vocabulary, phrases and redirection techniques that mentors can call upon at any given moment through training and role plays.

2) Short structured opportunities to mentor: Build the excitement and stamina for the mentor/mentee relationship by slowly increasing time together. Begin with 15-20 minutes of getting to know you conversation and a specific task (reading together, creating a poster for the community/program) and then build in more time.

3) Time to reflect on glows and growths: Shortly after the mentoring time, have mentors reflect on the stellar moments with the mentees, share the stories and the emotions experienced or seen between the two. Be sure to welcome the opportunities where a mentor realizes they could have done something different, discuss what could be done different the next time, or what others might have done so mentors can continue building their toolbox.

4) Invitational conversations: Just as mentors discuss and reflect on glows and growths, include mentees in conversations about how the partnership is going, know what the safe boundary is for the partnership and realize when a mentor needs to pull in additional resources because they might not be qualified at all levels to help the mentee.

5) Celebrate and add more joy: When we are joyful, our immune system gets stronger, our stress levels decrease and we get to have more opportunities for joy because we will probably live longer. When a mentor program has the four components above, joy and celebrations come easily because participants show up authentically and feel comfortable living their true nature- and that should always be celebrated!

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