Group Mentoring to Strengthen Kids and Families
At the YMCA, we recognize that it takes a village to raise strong, confident children. To help make a positive difference in the lives of both parents and kids, the YMCA leads the free Reach & Rise Therapeutic Group Mentoring Program.
Through this program, children and teens ages 8 to 15 take part in weekly group activities with other kids and with positive adult role models in a supportive and fun environment.
How it works
In the program, two adult mentors are matched with a group of 6 youth mentees once a week for two hours. Mentors serve as role models, friends, and confidants – all an additional source of support for children.
Together, the groups meet at assigned sites, such as YMCA branches, schools, or community centers, and take part in sports, community service programs, and games. They also discuss and do role-playing about issues and events going on in their lives.
There are two program cycles: An 8-week session that meets in the summer, and a 16-week session that meets in the fall and spring. Mentors follow a YMCA group mentoring handbook, and the program director and families convene monthly to make sure each child’s goals are being met.
Why a group?
One-on-one mentoring is a great opportunity for kids to get direct support and guidance. But sometimes a group setting can be more beneficial because it may be easier for kids to relate with each other than with one adult. At the YMCA, we create environments where all kids can best reach their full potential.
How Group Mentoring helps kids
For mentees, the regular, positive experiences of Reach & Rise Mentoring Group Mentoring can result in:
- Improved academic performance
- Improved social skills
- Greater self-esteem
- Better decision-making skills
- Stronger relationships
How Group Mentoring helps mentors
Mentoring benefits mentors too. As mentors, people get an opportunity to be positive role models and share their own experiences to help others. Mentors facilitate healthy peer relationships, and are often difference-makers in children’s lives. Read Mentor Vinnie’s story here.
The YMCA also actively supports Reach & Rise mentors, with ongoing weekly check-ins and training and guidance to help mentors plan activities, set goals, and interact with their mentees.
How to get involved
YMCA mentors are volunteers from a variety of cultural, educational, and professional backgrounds who are looking to make a positive impact.
All mentors are screened by the YMCA in accordance with YMCA policies. In addition, mentors must:
- Be 23 years of age
- Complete 15+ hours of mentor training over the course of 5 weeks
- Commit to spending two hours a week for an 8-week or 16-week session as a co-facilitating mentor
- Pass a background security screening, including fingerprint security
- Provide thorough reference checks
- Check in with the YMCA program director after each group session