The Challenge for Change programme is making a difference in the community, co-ordinators Beatrice Fisher and Jan Smith write.
We all have times in our lives when the journey is a little harder. Living in caring communities means that when we are in a stronger position, we can reach out and support others if their journey is more challenging.
When families are under economic pressure, are time poor or are geographically separated from whānau and other support networks, a mentor can make a huge difference in a young person's life as demonstrated by this father of a young person on the current Challenge for Change programme.
"It has been awesome having a mentor. My daughter and I appreciate the journey we have experienced with her mentor. They have become good friends. Challenge for Change has been rewarding for both of us and I hope it continues for other children and parents that need kindness and support when going through tough times."
Many people would like to contribute to the local community but don't know how to achieve this.
Challenge for Change is a programme designed to provide such an opportunity.
As a previous mentor, Sophie Handford, said, "It was an awesome way for me to use some of my people skills and the love I have for young people and for kids and to be able to spend some time with someone who would really benefit from that.
"What a cool way to have a positive impact while also having fun myself. I got some awesome unexpected bonuses from being involved in the programme. I would 100 per cent recommend it."
There is no one size fits all type of mentor as the diversity of young people that are on the programme is wide.
The key elements are to care about our young people, have a desire for fun, and choose to commit to your matched young person for the duration of the programme.
The benefits are evidenced by this family's feedback: "The Challenge for Change programme has been a wonderful experience for both our children. They were perfectly matched with two great mentors who they have bonded very well with, learnt a great deal from, and shared some special experiences. We also enjoyed the support and sharing experiences during the parenting programme."
One of the added benefits for the mentors is the great camaraderie the group experiences as they journey together.
Dr Tim Smith, who is a current mentor, described it as a win/win for him and his young person.
"I entered this thinking it was about me giving my time for someone else, what I didn't expect is how much I would get out of it."
Challenge for Change has been running in the Wellington region for over 20 years, and four years on the Kāpiti Coast.
Mentoring has a proven track record, with a study also confirming its benefits which include enhanced self-esteem and confidence, improved behaviour, stronger relationships with parents, teachers and peers, and improved interpersonal skills.
A new programme is about to start and if you are interested in taking up this opportunity to make a difference in a young person's life, more information is available online on the Challenge for Change website www.challengeforchange.nz or by emailing email@example.com
They would love to hear from you.