LEARNING TO HELP: Carmel McMahon, trainer Tracey Windchester-Mellors, Brett Nicol and Liz Hogan at the last youth mentoring workshop at the Civic Centre.
LEARNING TO HELP: Carmel McMahon, trainer Tracey Windchester-Mellors, Brett Nicol and Liz Hogan at the last youth mentoring workshop at the Civic Centre. Renee Albrecht

Volunteers learn how to change young lives

VOLUNTEERS banded together in the Gympie Civic Centre recently to learn how to change the lives of young people.

The Gympie Region Volunteer Centre will tomorrow run the second of two training sessions to turn the volunteers, aged between 19 and 75, into mentors for this region's youth.

Project co-ordinator Cassandra Elstob said there had been an overwhelming amount of interest in the pilot program.

"It's a youth mentoring workshop to train volunteers in the area to go and work with high school students and other young people through organisations like Anglicare,” Ms Elstob said.

"We had 210 inquiries, and I interviewed 95 people to cut it down to 30.”

Ms Elstob said last week's training session focused on keeping young people safe.

"These two days of workshops would teach skills on how to deal with a young person,” she said.

"We go through child protection, what to do if they get given information that's related to child protection issues, how to keep themselves safe physically and mentally, how to actually build trust with a young person, and also teaching them boundaries.”

The mentors will then be placed in high schools and community organisations to begin working with at-risk youth.

"It's one-on-one; they work with them for a minimum of 10 weeks, one hour a week,” Ms Elstob said.

"They work with them on self-resilience and building relationships.

"They will work with students who are maybe at risk of being expelled, trying to get them back on the path and really just mentor them, become a friend, someone who they can talk to and work through their life with.”

Ms Elstob will provide the mentors with post-placement support.

"In 10 weeks, we'll bring them back and do some more training, and give them some programs they can work with the young people,” she said.

"And then we'll regroup every quarter, just to keep their professional development up.”

The mentors will work with youth through Anglicare, Gympie State High, James Nash High and Mary Valley State College.

Gympie Times


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