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John Howard society seeks more mentors for its KidStart program

A local program is looking for more youth mentors in the Comox Valley and Campbell River.

Called the KidStart Mentoring Program, it operates through the John Howard Society of the North Island. Program coordinator Rae Jampole says it pairs responsible adults with youth in the community who could benefit from extra one-on-one time.

Kids usually start anywhere between the ages of six and 12. Jampole adds anyone can be referred for the program and once matched, they often keep their mentor until they are around 15 years old.

However, once a mentor is paired with someone they do not go back into the pool unless they want to take on another.

“That’s why we always need new mentors coming into the program because the ones that are paired stay together a long time,” said Jampole.

Jampole says they currently have around 30 kids on their waitlist, and each of them will need an individual mentor. She adds a strong bond must be formed because of the long amount of time they spend together.

“It’s also a big ask for mentors, because we’re asking them to volunteer at least two to three hours a week for at least a year of their time, committed to hanging out with a kiddo,” said Jampole.

While there are often many reasons why someone would want or need a mentor, Jampole says the kids are often able to connect with their mentors in a meaningful way.

“The biggest ask is that when you are paired with a youth there’s no expectation from them, there’s no hope for them to change in any way. It’s to accept them unconditionally as they are,” said Jampole.

“There was a mentor who had lost her father when she was quite young, and she was paired with a mentee who had also just lost her dad. The mentee didn’t know that the mentor had the same experience. After a year of meeting together, the mentor came to a meeting, and she told us that for the first time, the mentee had talked to her about her father passing away.

“They were able to connect really deeply about this experience they had.”

Becoming a mentor takes about two months because of interviews, criminal record checks and training and then they are paired through interviews with the kid and their family.

For more information about becoming a mentor, you can visit their website. 

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