KidStart is Campbell River’s only mentoring program and is one of the most rewarding, enjoyable and flexible volunteer experiences imaginable. Photo contributed

KidStart is Campbell River’s only mentoring program and is one of the most rewarding, enjoyable and flexible volunteer experiences imaginable. Photo contributed

Kidstart celebrates 15 years of matching youths with volunteer mentors

Campbell River program one of the most rewarding, enjoyable and flexible volunteer experiences imaginable

The John Howard Society’s KidStart Mentoring Program is celebrating its 15th anniversary of connecting caring mentors with great kids in our community this month.

KidStart is Campbell River’s only mentoring program since Big Brothers and Sisters closed many years ago and is one of the most rewarding, enjoyable and flexible volunteer experiences imaginable. There are currently 171 children and youth (aged 6-18) waiting an average of 2-6 years for volunteers to have some fun with them.

Volunteers spend a few hours a week (or every second week for shift workers), with their little buddies, and can be any age 19+. Most of the children waiting for mentors are 6-12, but there are some teenagers waiting for mentors as well. Key to the success of the program is that new volunteers collaboratively decide with the KidStart Coordinator which of the children or youth from the waitlist they would be the best mentor for. Matching based on hobbies, interests, family information, likes and dislikes is crucial for this to be a very positive volunteer experience. Volunteers can be indivudals, couples or entire families that want to spend time with a child.

The commitment is for a year or longer, and there is flexibility to take holidays, or for people who work shift work. In general, it’s about 12 hours per month that volunteers hang out with their mentees, baking cookies, walking the dog, playing board games, going to community events or doing other things that you enjoy and help them to experience success.

A mom of a 14-year-old girl matched with her new mentor this summer said, “My daughter’s mentor is so lovely and I absolutely love the relationship that they have. We lost a dear friend to suicide last year and my daughter was dealing with horrific bullying at school. We definitely went through a really hard time. My daughter is already more outgoing, up for things and talkative in the few months they’ve been matched. Thank you so much for everything. KidStart is amazing and has brought my daughter happiness again. I would recommend it to anyone.”

Call the KidStart Coordinator Tara Jordan at 250-286-0611 ext. 113, 250-203-3111 or email tara.jordan@jhsni.bc.ca for more information about this incredibly flexible and heart-warming opportunity today.

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