Under the LEARN (Life Enhancement and Resources Network) is a rising program called the Mentorship Program, which partners youth with adults to provide youth, adults and their families positive, supportive connections and healthy peer and family relationships. Youth ages 10 to 17 from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and adults who are interested in being mentors would have the chance to work in one-on-one mentoring, group-setting mentoring and many other opportunities.
“The Fatherhood Program started the program for Community youth and adults. Right now we are working with the youth. The program initially started off with mentors coming from the Fatherhood Program and Community members, and now it is open to SRPMIC employees and [it was] recently opened up to the female population,” said Kevin Poleyumptewa, senior social worker for the Fatherhood Program.
Currently there are 32 mentees (youth) and eight mentors, so there is a huge need for more adults to serve as mentors. Activities take place every other week, and during the summer it’s weekly.
To help recruit more mentors, an idea was brought up to the SRPMIC Community manager for employee mentors to be able to dedicate up to two hours of their work time to work with their mentee, as long as the employee’s supervisor and department director permit it.
“Mentors are basically there to be a support and a friend to the youth; they’re not necessarily there to be a disciplinary, but just really help, uplift and support the kids,” said Poleyumptewa. “Some of the youth are raised by single parents and need someone to be there to help them with technology or sports-related things.”
Bowling, rock climbing, training camps and going to see museum or art exhibits are examples of some of the many activities available through the program.
“A lot of what we do is work with the parents as well to make sure that the parent, mentee [child] and mentor all have a balanced [relationship] and are able to work together as a team,” said Denise Gallagher, program assistant for LEARN. “We have about nine kids on the waiting list, and we are hoping to recruit mentors because these kids are waiting and are excited to be matched up with a mentor.”
Mentors must be 21 years old and willing to serve a 12-month commitment, with a minimum of two to four hours a week. The program does conduct an in-depth background check on applicants. Both mentors and mentees receive ongoing training and support from the program.
Becoming a mentor to a child helps with character development, cultural practices and beliefs, social skills, leadership development, providing support to the youth with problems at home and school, and career exploration and preparedness.
“Being a mentor doesn’t take up a lot of time, but the time that the mentor does give is real quality [time for the] youth. Both mentor and child benefit from it; it is mutually rewarding,” said Gallagher.
Mentors give extra support to youth so they can reach their full potential in life. For more information on the program, or to refer a child to the program, contact LEARN at (480) 362-6820.