Can you share a joke? Skip rocks? Eat ice cream?
Then you can help support a child in the Comox Valley.
The John Howard Society of North Island is looking for volunteer mentors for KidStart.
KidStart is a mentoring program that connects children and youth ages 6-12 with carefully screened, trained, and supported adult volunteer mentors. Through role modeling and encouraging kids to participate in activities that build their confidence, mentors help children become more resilient and successful in the face of challenges. Many friendships continue into the teen years and beyond.
“KidStart is fun for both the mentor and the mentee,” said KidStart co-ordinator Lee Manson. “We match kids with adults who have similar interests. So, if you like cycling or basketball, we’ll match you with a child who also likes being active. If you are artistic, we’ll match you with someone who likes drawing, painting, or other creative activities. That way, you’re both having fun.”
Each child in KidStart has experiences that indicate their need for extra support. The loss of a family member, challenges at school, or stresses at home are all reasons that a child may be identified as needing a supportive adult buddy. Kids may be referred to the program through family members and friends, school staff, or other care providers they are working with. Currently, there are more than 40 kids waiting for mentors in the Comox Valley. The benefits of mentoring are even more relevant now due to the social, mental health, and academic impacts that the pandemic has had on youth.
Becoming a volunteer mentor with KidStart is a great way to be involved in the Comox Valley community. Mentor/mentee duos spend three hours a week together, deciding as a pair how they want to spend their time. Mentors encourage their mentees to develop their own interests, support learning and skill building, and open doors for them to participate in the community. Mentors with varied interests and experiences are needed for this program’s success. At the moment, KidStart is especially seeking mentors who are men, Indigenous people of all genders, and people who are active and enjoy the great outdoors.
Can’t volunteer? Consider donating
Do you believe in the power of mentoring but lack the time? KidStart depends entirely on donations, fundraising, and gaming funds to operate. You can help support mentoring in the Comox Valley by becoming a KidStart Champion. KidStart Champions choose from three levels of monthly sponsorship: Gold = $100/month, Silver = $50/month, and Bronze = $25/month. KidStart Champions can be individuals or groups. KidStart also welcomes one-time or annual donations, as well as discounts or coupons for recreational activities and local eateries.
To find out more, contact Manson at 250-898-4842 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit jhsni.bc.ca/index.php/kidstart/