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Pathways to Healing: Youth Mentorship Program

December 20, 2019 | Pathways to Healing, Youth Mentorship

By: Jaskirat Ghuttora

One program of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary that you may or may not have heard of is the Youth Mentorship Program and it is one that I would like to shed some more light on. The Youth Mentorship program aims to pair marginalized and underprivileged youth with volunteers from EFry in order for them to have a positive role model to look up to and learn from in their lives. This program gives a helping hand to those youth who find themselves in trouble because no one is there to listen to them, and they just need their voice to be heard.

I would like to focus on one of our youth mentors, Jackson Eckes and his experience with his mentee on how the mentorship program allowed them both to grow, connect and learn from each other. Jackson discussed how his mentee and him both established common grounds from their upbringings, to their beliefs which helped establish a respectful and empathetic connection between the two right off the bat. From there the connection only blossomed as they were both in somewhat similar situations when they were paired up at the beginning of the school year. On one hand, Jackson was finishing his final year of post-secondary and doing his practicum with EFry in the court volunteer program, while his mentee was upgrading in order to get into his post-secondary degree of choice. This led to an understandable array of stress and emotions, however their mutual experience contributed to Jackson’s ability to see his mentee succeed and be a positive influence on his mentee. Coupled with his mentee’s desire to consistently improved upon work ethic, they were able to progress together.

Eventually, the time will come for Jackson and his mentee to part ways at the end of November. However, after having met one another in August of 2018 and building a strong and meaningful mentor to mentee relationship, Jackson believes it has evolved past that and blossomed into a positive and enduring connection where they both served as positive influences and learning experiences to one another throughout their time together.

As you can see, The Youth Mentorship Program from The Elizabeth Fry Society aims to build a meaningful relationship between mentors and mentees in order to help underprivileged mentees feel welcome into society and accepted for who they are, alongside helping them realize their self-worth. Additionally, it helps youth who may have continued down the wrong path towards opportunities of moving towards a more healthy directions.

Mental Health and Crime they are linked

May 6, 2019 | Blog, Youth Mentorship

There is a stigma associated to mental illness that causes one to become more isolated and further into their anxiety, depression or other disorders. It is not as simple as working through the issues or triggers like “relax, everything will work out in the end” when said, can cause further frustration for the individual. Without support, mental illness can take a toll causing negative consequences for actions that are often uncontrollable and end up redirecting life in an undesirable direction.

Due to self-harming myself and attempted suicide I have had to be admitted into two hospitals in the span of six months. There were safety concerns that I would attempt suicide again. While in the last hospital I had an altercation with another youth and was charged with assault with a deadly weapon at the age of 15 years old. I was put on probation for a year.

My relationship with my family is not the greatest so my Probation Officer suggested a mentor would perhaps be beneficial for me. With previous counselling I always felt judged and I would retract from their guidance. Saying YES to receiving a mentor was the best decision I made, as this has been the most supported I have ever felt!

My mentor is my rock supporting me emotionally, mentally & physically – no matter the mood I am in. The conversations I have with them has really opened my mind to understand different perspectives and learning what different decisions I could be making to better a situation. I do not take my mentor for granted with the wisdom they share. I have noticed that I make more informed decisions and am making serious changes in my life for the better.

The support I am receiving from my mentor has enabled me to actually be more confident in public areas. I used to be removed from society and it was paralyzing to go out in public places. I even have been going to the gym which is a big deal for me, I would never want to touch the equipment others previously used.

Recently, I got into trouble with the law again. While at a store, I had a terrible episode resulting in me being charged with theft under $5,000.00. With my illness I have periods which render me incapable of controlling myself. With this incident I have been referred to another program which focuses on my mental health.

My mentor, my rock, has been with me at every court hearing and legal aid meeting pertaining to the recent charge. Never giving up on me and seeing me through this detour in my life.