Sushi or ice-cream? It’s a tough choice Jenna Falzon enjoys sharing most Tuesdays with an Adelaide teenager whose confidence and self-esteem is blossoming day by day.
Jenna is part of an AnglicareSA mentoring program that involves adult mentors spending one-on-one time with a child or young person to focus on achieving their specific goals.
The Adelaide occupational therapist and mum of three says being able to walk alongside young people who are in need and empowering them to identify their strengths and reach their dreams, motivated her to sign up to the program.
“I strongly believe that all children should have access to everything they need to grow and develop,” says AnglicareSA Customer Health and Wellness Services Manager Jenna.
“I have three children myself, so for me to be able to contribute to another young person who maybe hasn’t had the same opportunities growing up is really important to me.”
The program is delivered through AnglicareSA Children, Youth and Families, and is a community-based therapeutic mentoring model. It is open to young people through the Department of Education who are aged eight to 18 years and need extra support re-engaging with education, need to improve social integration and wellbeing, reduce isolation, build positive relationships, and identify and grow strengths.
”I think being able to just be there as a sounding board and a person to talk to, that is outside the friendship and family unit, someone neutral to help her focus on her interests, has been important.”
AnglicareSA is currently looking to expand the program and is calling for more mentors to meet demand post-COVID.
“It’s a great program,“ Jenna says. “It’s a really nice group of mentors to work alongside, which means there’s a lot of support in terms of brainstorming different ideas, different sessions, and different ways to manage situations.”
Since joining the program, Jenna has been matched with a teenage girl who this year started high school. Jenna says the progress she’s witnessed in her young mentee and the connection they have developed has been so rewarding.
“It’s a challenging time starting high school, with lots of navigating of social relationships and everything that comes with becoming a teenager,” Jenna says.
“So, I think being able to just be there as a sounding board and a person to talk to, that is outside the friendship and family unit, someone neutral to help her focus on her interests, has been important.”
Whether it’s a phone catch up or heading out for ice-cream or sushi, the consistency of meeting every Tuesday has enabled Jenna to be a regular presence in her young person’s life, helping build confidence and develop self-esteem through positive relationships and shared experiences.
“It’s great to feel that you can contribute – I guess it’s a small contribution that I make each week to this person, but I feel that it’s had some really big impact,” she says.
“Also, just being able to relate to someone else – I normally work in aged care so I am very much used to working with older adults – so to challenge my skills in working with someone younger has been really good as well.”
AnglicareSA staff who are part time or casual employees interested in becoming a mentor in the program are encouraged to contact the [email protected].