Our Lego Robotic program allows our Mentors to get the opportunity to learn from the kids.
The kids are so knowledgeable and persevered through learning this challenging skill. We have one particular child that is learning to thrive with anxiety. Many daily tasks can be challenging for this child. This became clear at a LEGO Robotics Workshop.
Getting into the Clubhouse where the other students were already getting to work on their project presented a challenge. His mentor and mother talked and encouraged him to come into the building from the parking lot for about half an hour. He eventually came into the room, but stopped in the door frame. His mentor and mom continued to encourage him but gave him the space he needed to become comfortable. He expressed the desire to participate, however, struggled with the social setting.
His mentor set up a small table in the corner of the room, they sat together with their backs to the group, working and talking about the project. He did not want to follow the very detailed instructions of the project. However, it was fascinating to witness this boy experiment and complete the project through trial and error.
The project was not an exact match to that laid out in the instructions, but he was able to get the working components operating in the same fashion. It was just incredible. This was a success!
Our cooking class is so fun. Kids and mentors have such a great time together and they have such great conversations while mixing and chopping.
Several of our mentors were chatting about their grandchildren and what name their grandchildren called them: granny, pops, grandma. One young girl joined in and said to her mentor, “We need another name for you for me.”
The mentor responded saying that they were good friends. The young girl then replied, “You are more than a friend to me, we need a better word.”
They spent the next several minutes trying to find the right word to describe their relationship. This sweet little conversation really encapsulates the relationships between our mentors and youth. They are more than friends, they become family.
On an outing with several of our teens it quickly became evident that some of our youth continue to struggle socially in their peer relationships.
To be truthful, what adolescent in Middle School and High school isn’t struggling with peer relationships and finding their place? Circle of Friends creates a safe space for youth to learn, practice and experiment with their social skills. Our youth are able to practice in a setting with caring and kind adults, our mentors modeled how to respond when we encounter something or someone that makes us feel comfortable and nervous.
We ask our teens to become Junior Mentors for our younger children in our Summer Reading Program. This continues to build confidence and practice for our teens and the younger children are delighted to spend time with the “big kids.”
Many conversations happen in the car. On a trip to the bowling alley with several youths, one of the boys began to share about his struggle with a bully.
He shared about the impacts that was making on his family and how he had hoped to avoid adding additional stress to his mom. His candid conversation was met with empathy and inclusiveness from the other youth in the car. The opportunity to form relationships and inclusion are so generously afforded to COF youth by their peers, mentor, staff and volunteers.