Finalist

Community Engagement Initiative of the Year Award

MENTOR Youth Guidance Programme

Finalist of the Community Engagement Initiative of the Year Award

"Realizing Youth Potential through Mentoring"


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Summary

Recognizing the impact of its activities on the wider community and stakeholders, the University of Nicosia (UNIC) designed and implemented a formal mentoring programme. MENTOR is a structured community engagement initiative serving both the University’s social outreach pillar and broader societal needs. It is an effective tool by which short and long-term social benefits, linked to the Sustainable Development Goals, are achieved. It works by utilizing a mechanism developed by specific partners to identify children from vulnerable groups and connect them with University Students or Alumni (Mentors). Children (ages 6 to 13) who grow up in families from low socioeconomic backgrounds, having reduced or no opportunities for schooling, as well as personal and social development, are paired with appropriate Mentors. These Mentors work voluntarily after being carefully selected and trained according to strict criteria and procedures. UNIC offers training, ongoing support and supervision to facilitate their role as friends, role models and mentors for these children. Mentors form important relationships with children as they deal with their school homework and engage in many other experiential and interactive activities, including playing in the park, participating in sports activities, visiting museums, etc. These mentoring relationships protect and prevent the children (tomorrow's citizens) from delinquent behaviour, therefore enhancing their opportunities for personal and professional success. At the same time, Mentors experience some of the country's most important social problems. With that, they understand and cultivate the social responsibility that, as tomorrow's leaders, they will be called upon to incorporate into their professional positions.

Key People


Dr. Alexandros Antonaras
Vice President of Student Services
Department of Management & MIS | School of Business,  University of Nicosia



Ms Katerina Georgaki
Director of Unic Mentor Youth Guidance Programme
Office of the Vice President of Student Services,  University of Nicosia



Mrs Andri Anastasiou
Practicum Coordinator of MSc School Psychology/Clinical Supervisor for Unic Mentor Youth Guidance Programme
Department of Psychology School of Humanities and Social Sciences,  University of Nicosia


Acknowledgements

We would like to acknowledge the 11 professional bodies supporting the initiative: 1. Cyprus Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport and Youth 2. Office of the Commisioner for Children’s Rights 3. The Cyprus Anti-Drug Council 4. Social Welfare Services of the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance 5. Pancyprian Volunteerism Coordinative Council 6. Parent’s Association for Primary Schools & Secondary School Parent’s Association 7. Holy Mitropolis of Tamasos and Orinis 8. Trainers of Cyprus Youth Council 9. KESY – Center for Therapy, Training and Research 10. European Center for Evidence-Based Mentoring 11. Perach International

Images

UNIC Mentor Programme Activities 1

UNIC Mentor Programme Activities 2

UNIC Mentor Programme Arts & Crafts

UNIC Mentor Programme CSR Best Practice Award

UNIC Mentor Programme Cyprus Education Leaders Award Ceremony

UNIC Mentor Programme Educational Leaders Award

UNIC Mentor Programme European Network Meeting

UNIC Mentor Programme Gratitude Card

UNIC Mentor Programme Group Photo

UNIC Mentor Programme Training

IMPACT STORY

Impacting lifes

Eleni was a 23 year old postgraduate student of School Psychology, who applied to be a Mentor. Peter was an 8 year old child from a single parent family, attenteding third grade in primary school. Peter’s father had abandoned the family when Peter was a baby. Peter’s mother, Ronda, had to face life’s hardships and work long hours as a supermarket employee.At that time,Peter’s teacher wanted to help and reached out to Ronda to check if she was willing for Peter to take part in the MENTOR programme. Ronda accepted and, soon after, Eleni and Peter were paired together. When they started meeting, Eleni found a very shy but intelligent boy who was not preforming well at school and easily gave up any efort to make friends. He told Eleni that he felt he was “the most useless kid in class”. Eleni vividly recalls her response and efforts that day, encouraging Peter to focus on his abilities: “You are a brilliant child with many abilities and you can accomplish a great deal’’. The meetings proceeded and their relationship grew. Six months later, Peter shared with Eleni that: ‘‘Today, my teacher said that I'm the best student in class". Peter’s school expressed gratitude for Peter’s newfound support mechanism. This is only one of the many successful stories we can share. Mentoring guarantees and instills in children that there is someone who cares about them and connects with them, to help them grow and develop and, ultimately, realize their potential.

LEARNINGS

Lessons learned

Key learnings and points of advice for those undertaking a similar path:

1. Take the time necessary to study scientific findings relating to the field before initiating a project. Examine the various ways the project could be implemented so as to fit the particular needs of the local society it will serve. Start with small steps but have a bigger vision in mind.

2. When making final decisions on how to build or support the implementation, make sure to take into consideration the characteristics of the organization, the community you aim to serve and the long-term effects your project is aiming to deliver.

3. Evaluation of the initiative is a crucial factor for success. Take all the required actions that enable you to gather qualitative and quantitative data before, during and at the end of every mentoring cycle. Be mindful of the relevant legislation. Use the results to improve your practices.

4.Lead the initiative by example. Engage all members in the philosophy of mentoring and be reachable to all members that might need your support. This initiative relies on teamwork, and the motivation and engagement of its individual members.

5. Partnerships are important, building the right synergies is key for maximizing the impact of the initiative.

6. Be patient. Accept any difficulties and obstacles. Use these as opportunities to learn and to find new ways of effective practices.

7. Study the Sustainable Development Goals and link the 2030 Agenda to activities that add value and perspective to your initiative.

FUTURE PLANS

What's coming?

As of the next mentonring cycle (2019-20), we will integrate the sustainability agenda into the specific activities that Mentors will implement during their meetings and interactions with the children. As part of this, Mentors will receive additional training about the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This will equip Mentors with relevant material (videos, games, workshop ideas, action plans), enabling and inspiring themto work together with mentees in order to design and engage in one-on-one SDG related activities. In addition, we are initiating a new kind of collaboration with primary education schools who visit our campus. Through the collaboration, Mentors will have the opportunity to design and implement workshops and engage in group activities with children, educating them on what the SDG’S are and how we can all work together for the benefit of our planet. We believe that each Mentor and child could serve asan active ambassador for the sustainability of our planet, creating effects with deeper impact and longterm benefits. Moreover, the programme has the potential and is actively seeking to scale up on a national level, by forming key synergies with new stakeholders such as other universities, organisations that could further fund the growth of the initiative, and youth associations to support the flow of mentors into the programme.


KEY STATISTICS

70

Number of children mentored

88

Number of University students engaged as mentors/coordinators

6176

Number of Mentoring Hours provided to Children

1905

Total Training Hours for Mentors/Coordinators

€100.000+

University investment in the project

96%

Parents’ satisfaction rate with programme

100%

Children’s satisfaction rate with Mentors

11

Professional/Governmental/Non-Governmental bodies & Networks supporting programme

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