Last week I resigned from my position in the Queensland State Government to end a 29 year career in various positions. At the age of nearly 65, I decided to make the move to pursue some dreams which have been growing in me for some time. There is one in particular I’ll share as a blog post, as it has some relation to previous items.
In August 2013 I attended a public Crime Prevention Seminar at a campus of one of the local universities. As I listened to the various presentations about the diverse range of crimes regularly occurring in our city, I made the assumption that many teenage offenders would be from family situations where there is an absence of strong adult role models. That assumption led to thoughts about the potential of mentoring to turn the situation around.
The next day I contacted a friend who is the CEO of one of the local non-government organisations which provides a variety of youth support services. I asked her if she knew of any youth mentoring services in the area. One of her team emailed me the following day with details of an organisation which recruits and trains mentors to support multicultural youth at risk. I put my hand up and subsequently spent most of my Saturday mornings last year providing some encouragement and guidance to a young guy from Afghanistan.
It was an extremely rewarding and enjoyable experience for a number of reasons, including being introduced to many of the great qualities of Afghan culture. However, the greatest benefit for me was developing an increasing belief that mentoring would have to be one of the most cost effective, untapped resources in the nation to impact positively on the future of many young people who are at risk of entering adulthood with limited aspirations, and easily influenced to follow unproductive, self-destructive paths (including criminal activity and developing potentially addictive habits).
So, the goal of my dream is to establish an effective platform from which I can encourage/inspire/motivate 100,000 Australians to each informally mentor one young person who is struggling with thoughts of hopelessness, worthlessness and powerlessness. I know this sounds unrealistically ambitious, but as the old saying goes, “If you aim for the stars, you will have a chance of reaching the moon”, (or something like that). Already I can visualise how it could be achieved. 100,000 is less than 1% of Australia’s working age population.
The more I think about it, the more ideas keep emerging. By sharing the dream, I’m making myself accountable to embrace it. There is a difference between feeling strongly about something and being passionate about it. Passion compels you to take action.
I will look forward to being able to provide an update of significant progress in six months. Hold me to it!
I would welcome information from anyone about the effectiveness of youth mentoring programs across the globe.