The Maroochydore RSL is far from what I imagined. As I walked into the light filled foyer I was directed up thestairs leading to the Conference area. It is as impressive as any big Conference venue. I was a little apprehensive as I don’t spend much time with teenagers and wasn’t sure that my skills with Mentoring adults would translate as well at the Youth Inspire Forum. Vickie Magic had done an amazing job getting so many volunteers and walking in was reminiscent of my feelings walking into an Anthony Robbins weekend. As I invited 2 young girls to sit with me and introduced myself as their mentor I could feel that they too were apprehensive.
The tables were designed to have 8 so I was then joined by a Mum with her 4 teenagers. I introduced everyone and took a breath putting out the intention to contribute positively to the morning. What happened next threw me a bit. The 2 young girls who arrived first grabbed all their bags and glanced quickly sideways saying “We’re going to the toilets”
Naively I thought they were, but Paris and Ruby the young girls sitting next to me were right onto it. “They have done a runner – got their showbags and gone.”
“No I said – it hasn’t even started”
Ruby, Paris and Eloise looked knowingly at each other. They shot a look at their older brother – he knew too.
They were right – someone else came and filled the chairs.
I thought about the look of anxiety I could see on the face of those girls and how inspite of reassurance and inviting them to be part of the group they still felt the need to bolt.
Fear makes us run. It is a natural human instinct that those girls were feeling. “Am I safe? Do I belong?” It is understandable that they felt overwhelmed and a pity they missed a great morning.
Fear also means we miss opportunity. I watched and listened to the 4 young people who did stay at my table. Their comments were insightful and I could see the notes they were taking when speakers gave their tips for building the life you want. They were particularly engaged with the Speakers who shared their personal stories. That is the key to good mentoring. Sharing relatable stories.
It has inspired me to think about how we create a program for ongoing engagement of youth?
I see the importance to have youth mentoring youth so this morning I am meeting with one of my younger graduates and a couple of psychology students. I want them to work out how we can create a program that supports youth and takes inspiration to the next step of implementation.
If you have any interest in joining that conversation contact me at [email protected]
Thanks to Vicki Magic and all the inspirational speakers and volunteers on Saturday. It takes a tribe.