Participating as a Peer Mentor to me is important and impactful because I went through the TAY program. While in the TAY program I worked with TAY Specialist Tania Sanchez. I completed a community service goal, educational, increasing pre-employment skills goal and I am now currently enrolled into college and working a fulltime job. The TAY program presented me with the opportunity to help other youth complete their goals as Peer Mentor. A Peer Mentor is a youth who has successfully completed the TAY program and now has the chance to help other youth with reaching their goals and being motivated. During my time as a peer mentor I had the opportunity to work with two clients. I had a 16-year-old female Mexican American female who was struggling with substance abuse issues and wanted to create an emotional wellbeing goal. I got her get connected to a substance abuse counselor and planned to teach new ways to cope with anxiety. I used INVIVO teaching to help her cope with anxiety. We looked at breathing techniques, running, writing, and the one she liked the most was deeply listening to music not just the lyrics but the tone and beats as well. My second youth was a 16-year-old African American male who had a developmental disability. My youth wanted to increase his financial literacy skills in order to learn how to count dollar bills and coins. We worked on learning the names of coins and how to count coins. We did worksheets on how to count coins, I used INVIVO teaching to help him count out loud and solve different problems to help my youth practice and better understand counting coins. As a Peer Mentor I learned that not everyone has motivation and sometimes they need extra support, encouragement and motivation from someone outside of their immediate support systems. I also learned that it is important to be able to adjust to client’s moods and emotions. Sometimes our youth are having a bad day or are not in the mood to open up. During the meeting I’d let them vent to me and try to give good and positive advice to them. One thing I’ll miss is being able to positively help other students who need help and need the extra push of motivation. Peer mentors show that students with encouragement can help other students in various situations in time of need such as motivation or encouragement to be better and do better. While being a Peer Mentor I’ve gained more knowledge on how to take situations and only focus on the positives and strengths of my youth.
My Experience as a TAY Peer Mentor
I have had three participants that I’ve worked with. The first participant was a 16-year-old female who was pregnant and undocumented. We used the TIP model, smart goal sheet to write out one of her first goals. One was becoming a citizen, we gathered information on programs that assist with becoming a legal citizen. Another goal was services for prenatal care.
The second participant was a 16-year-old male, whose goal were to improve his academics and also to communicate. We worked on strength discovery mostly. Helping him identify his strengths and find ways to incorporate them into his work. Also, communication with him was tough because he was reserved and didn’t open up easily. I made it a point to talk and ask open ended questions, this allowed him to talk more and our conversations became more comfortable.
The third participant was a 16-year-old female, who had goals of becoming a licensed driver and communication skills. We researched online driving tests, driving schools, costs. And requirements for taking a driving test. We also made time to talk about things that interested her. This helped her to be more comfortable while communicating.
Some things you should remember is that these meetings are about them, not you. They are in this program seeking help whether it be with education or self-care. Life happens, some may become incarcerated, some may move away. Situations and goals may change but if you can remain consistent in their life you can make an impact and maybe be a positive impact. Going into this, I was a bit nervous because being someone who has been through many trials and tribulations like some of these teens have, it was hard listening to some of the things they have gone through and continue to go through. Mentoring these teens has helped me become more empathetic towards others and more kind hearted. I hope you also find a greater purpose while serving the clients.