It’s not easy being tween. Youth today face difficult and sometimes life-threatening decisions, and at this time of year, back-to-school anxiety and stress is much discussed among parents, educators and the media. Tweens and young teens, confronted with peer pressure, cyber-drama, bullying and the increasingly pervasive influence of social media, often need support to help them navigate their way from childhood to high school.
And schools in Toronto and the GTA are able to do that with the free kids.now after-school program, which matches one volunteer mentor with 10 students in a 12 week curriculum-based program that provides students with important lessons in building self-confidence, resolving conflict, setting goals, improving communication and managing stress.
“We are really pleased to be partnering with kids.now to offer many of our students the opportunity to work with a mentor that will help students discover who they are and what they can become,” says Chris Spence, Director of Education for the Toronto District School Board. “I know from personal experience the value of mentorship and I encourage students to get involved and let their journeys begin.”
Since 1999, kids.now, a charitable organization, has provided free in-school group mentoring programs to more than 11,000 grades 7 and 8. This fall, kids.now will run 80 programs in Ontario and 40 more throughout New Brunswick and Alberta.
“What we do is really provide kids with a toolbox that helps them in these critical years but that they can also access as they get older,” said kids.now President and Founder Janet King. “We empower youth to believe in themselves to make positive choices so they can reach their full potential.”
Marilia Lana signed up “shy introvert” Vinny during a particularly difficult time in her family’s life. “After the program, Vinny was like a flower blossoming. He just became better,” said Marilia, a family support worker. “Our experience with kids.now has impacted our whole family, and I want to tell other parents that this program is a no brainer – the results are big, a huge improvement in social skills.”