MENTOR Vermont hosted youth mentoring coordinators and youth advocates from across the state for the 2022 Vermont Mentoring Symposium at the Waterbury State Office Complex. The theme for the 2022 Symposium was “Youth Voice, Youth Power and Youth Advocacy.”
The annual mentoring conference brought together over 40 youth mentoring program staff and supporters from across the state for a series of networking and professional development sessions focused on building resilience and driving equity and inclusion for all Vermont youth to feel like they matter.
Kheya Ganguly, Vermont’s Director of Trauma Prevention and Resilience Development, delivered the keynote address, “Youth Mental Health and Developing Resilience,” with support from Community Bank, N.A. Ganguly started by sharing the widespread mental health challenges facing young people in Vermont post-pandemic and showed the key role mentoring relationships can play in building resilience for all Vermont youth.
Ganguly’s keynote was followed by a plenary session lead by Jonathan Phipps, Equity Coordinator of Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union. Phipps’ workshop led attendees to explore their own implicit bias and provided conversational tools that can help acknowledge and overcome the harmful ways implicit bias undermines youth resilience and inclusion.
The final session of the symposium featured a youth panel made up of four youth mentees facilitated by Mariam Mwibeleca (a senior at Burlington High School). The youth panelists were from around the state and all continued to benefit from long-term relationships with their adult mentor. The panelists discussed the current challenges facing them and how their mentor has been a consistent figure in helping them meet these challenges.
“As young Vermonters and adults alike continue to recover from the pandemic, it is important for all of us to listen to the young people in our communities and learn from them how we can collectively best support their needs,” said Sarah DeBouter, Training and Support Director at MENTOR Vermont. “It was inspirational to have four young people close out the Symposium; the youth panelist determined what topics they were passionate about and questions they wanted to answer, and they facilitated their own discussion. As witnesses, we are eager to amplify their voices through the work we do.”
Additional support for the Symposium was made possible by The Alchemist Foundation, Larkin Hospitality, and NBT Bank. More information about the event and about how you can support youth mentoring in Vermont can be found by visiting www.mentorvt.org.
About Mentoring Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic: Since the onset of COVID-19 in March 2020, youth mentoring programs and mentors across Vermont have stepped up and continued to adjust their approach to meet the needs of the youth they serve.
MENTOR Vermont’s 2022 youth mentor survey responses help to illustrate the profound impact of a mentor during this difficult time:
• 89% of mentees said, “having a mentor has made a positive difference in my life.”
• 91% of mentees shared, “my mentor makes me feel like I matter.”
Youth need supportive adults in their lives now more than ever. Mentoring relationships provide individualized, one-on-one attention and support, a primary component of pandemic recovery. Programs across the state are actively seeking new mentors to meet the increased need. To learn more about becoming a mentor in your community, visit www.mentorvt.org/become-a-mentor.
About MENTOR Vermont: MENTOR Vermont aims to close the mentoring gap and drive equity through quality mentoring relationships so every young person in Vermont has the supportive relationships they need to grow and thrive. To achieve this vision, MENTOR Vermont provides funding, resources, and support to the youth mentoring field in Vermont to strengthen the quality and broaden the reach of mentoring relationships throughout the state. In addition to the annual Vermont Mentoring Symposium, the organization manages the Vermont Mentoring Grants, provides technical support to mentoring program staff, maintains an online program directory and referral system for volunteers, manages a quality-based program management database, raises public awareness of mentoring, works with programs to ensure they are meeting best practices, and leads statewide mentoring initiatives. MENTOR Vermont is the state affiliate of MENTOR National. For more information about mentoring programs and initiatives in Vermont, visit www.mentorvt.org.