Shelley Kallinko – Raise Program Counsellor
I have been working with Raise as a Program Counsellor for four years and was a volunteer mentor for two years prior. I am passionate about the Raise Program and in my role, I witness first-hand how its framework enables mentors to assist young people to explore their inner strengths to overcome challenges and obstacles, and set and achieve realistic goals.
One of the most memorable experiences I’ve had with a mentee was a journey of triumph and personal development. The mentee in question was so painfully shy, she refused to take her hood off for the first month of the program.
“Her goal with her mentor was to be able to get a job, but previous experiences of rejection and bullying meant that although she wanted to do it, she had never followed through.”
After beginning to trust her mentor, she slowly participated in our group icebreakers and eventually began to take her hood down during these exercises. Her mentor helped to work on a careful plan to build up the strength to act, and by handing in a few resumes and inquiring about employment by the end of the program, she had already accomplished a massive personal achievement.
“The symbolism of her hood was very powerful to me, as it showed her progress towards self-confidence.”
Exploring inner strengths, Inspired by Martin Seligman
Martin Seligman, founder of the Positive Psychology movement has shaped my viewpoint with his focus on the positive side of human development, inner strengths including creativity, curiosity, kindness, citizenship, social intelligence and hope. I am also influenced by research which reflects the connection between the development in young people who are able to recognise their strengths and personal attributes during adolescence with fulfilment and success later in life – success beyond achievements like grades at school, such as positive relationship building and the capability to work as part of a team.
I would highly recommend his books; Authentic Happiness, Flourish, Learned Optimism and the Optimistic Child to mention a few.
Mentoring creates the space for young people to discover themselves
Asking Mentees specifically what they enjoy and trying to cultivate this can translate into creating some realistic goals. Mentor’s personal observations of mentee strengths and verbalising these, provide avenues for support to assist in creating goals and overcome hurdles, rather than ‘fixing’ problems, it allows mentees to have autonomy over their decision making. Helping young people to find their strengths also helps them create a sense of purpose and the focus shifts away from trying to succeed based on other people’s version of success – to one where they start to create and write their own narrative. This in turns leads to self-belief and confidence which helps empower them to find a path towards their version of personal success.