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Mentors shine a light for students

An innovative program which connects high school students with experienced mentors is holding a muster for new recruits next week.

The Ed Connect program has featured in local schools for more than a decade, with mentors and young people alike claiming to benefit.

An open forum will take place at the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River’s Mainbreak room next Friday, March 19, at 9.30am.

Margaret River Senior High School chaplain and local program co-ordinator Kathryn Seisun said volunteers cited their own positives when taking the chance to help some of the region’s younger residents.

“Mentoring is to walk alongside,” she said.

“Mentoring is about showing up, being that person who rides the ups and downs with the young person.

“Mentoring is about being a positive, encouraging and patient role model to a young person.”

Mrs Seisun said Ed Connect helped develop resilience in students and boosted their school engagement, as well as helping foster communication skills, better relationships with their peers and with themselves.

“Mentors become one of the trusted adults in the young person’s circle of support,” she said.

Volunteers generally had one-hour sessions with their students which offered the chance to provide guidance as well as support.

Local businessman Lloyd Shepherdson said his work in the program had been “a rewarding experience”.

“Our roles are just to be a sounding board, advice board, mature mate of the student,” he said.

“We are not there to be an educator of any scholastic values.

“The buzz it provides is — probably as per many teachers — watching the students mature and develop, and we, the mentors, have had that little bit of one-on-one exposure that, to some kids, just gives them that boost.”

Mentor John White said he worked briefly at MRSHS back in 1960 and had volunteered during the past few years with woodworking activities and recently started helping out on the school farm.

The program was a great chance for him to stay active and connected with young people.

Retired textile artist Diana Shores said she enjoyed working one-on-one with students to help bring out their artistic flair.

She was supporting a junior school student now who showed a strong talent and was interested in a career in filmmaking.

Email edconnect@edconnect.org.au or call 9444 8646 to register.

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