The journey to success looks different for everyone and no matter where you started from, it can be overwhelming for young people. They often face challenges that for some don’t seem so big but for them seem enormous. Things like finding direction in their career, navigating housing, making important life decisions, and overcoming obstacles.
Children from families overcoming these obstacles often face challenges that they should not and need not have to, but when they do, it’s important that they have someone there to help.
Recognising the importance of guidance and support during critical phases, Sparkways has emerged as a beacon of hope for Victoria's youth.
Through its innovative mentoring programs, Sparkways is empowering young people, enabling them to unlock their potential and build a brighter future.
Understanding the power of mentoring
Mentoring plays a vital role in nurturing the talents and ambitions of young individuals. It can provide them with guidance, knowledge, and inspiration, making sure they’re able to make informed decisions and develop essential life skills.
By connecting experienced mentors with ambitious young minds, mentoring programs create a platform for personal growth and self-discovery.
‘Igniting the Flame of Inspiration’
Sparkways, a well-known and much-loved organisation in Victoria, has embraced the transformative power of mentoring and tailored it to meet the unique needs of our youth, from 7 - 21. By partnering with schools, universities, and community organisations, Sparkways has honed and refined its one-to-one mentoring program to ensure the model is as effective as possible.
And their early educators are getting involved too!
Jess has been an Early Years Educator since 2009 and continues her career at Sparkways Billy Button Early Learning Centre.
As an early educator, Jess sees children from a very young age up until the school transition. Obviously, for her, it doesn’t end there. She decided to get into mentoring because she felt there was more to give.
But it wasn’t always that way.
Jess recalls being reluctant at the beginning, almost needing a little mentoring herself to get her over the line and take the leap to become one of Sparkway's mentors.
“I started thinking: ‘I don’t feel like I’m good enough for this’, she explained.
“Luckily, the program manager reassured me and said: ‘Come join us and we’ll help you.’ Just start from there.”
Hurting is easy, helping is hard
Understanding children is all part of an Early Educator’s role and when there is such a huge amount of passion for young people, we’re excited to not only recognise Jess as a wonderful role model in the ECEC sector but as a mentor in the Sparkways program.
“It’s easy for children to be labelled as naughty or bad,” Jess says.
“I don’t really see it that way. It’s the way we adults treat them, teach them, and guide them that can make a real difference. Children are very smart actually, they just need to be encouraged. If a child is told they are naughty, that’s what they’ll believe.
When a child transitions from early childhood education, it’s not the end of care that Sparkways provides. Recognising the impact of education in forming a young person's future, Sparkways has joined forces with schools across Melbourne to continue to provide critical care through its mentoring programs.
This means, older students are paired with younger students, offering them guidance and a friendly face in the schoolyard as well as a helping hand academically, and with personal development.
By fostering a supportive relationship between mentors and mentees, Sparkways inspires young individuals to excel in their studies, discover their passions, and navigate the challenges that school can sometimes throw at them.
You don’t need any special skills or qualifications to be a mentor, just commitment, maturity, and a willingness to listen.
Currently, Sparkways is looking for mentors in the Western Suburbs of Melbourne for their One-to-One youth mentoring program where mentors are matched with a young person based on their mutual interests and location.
This program involves a commitment to spend a couple of hours with a young person, each week, for 12 months.
The mentoring team provides you with all the training and support you along the way that you’ll need to be a positive and engaging mentor. But if this isn’t for you, one of the easiest ways you can help support Sparkways and their work is to simply make a donation.
Every dollar helps to help provide critical services for children and young people. Donate now to keep Sparkways’ work going.