City to take part in mentorship program
Airdrie City council voted unanimously to take part in a youth mentorship pilot program during its regular board meeting, Jan. 21.
Staff will work with Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Calgary and Area to implement the mPower mentoring initiative, providing internship opportunities at City Hall for students in the leadership program at George MacDougall High School (GMHS). The decision was made as part of the second phase of the Airdrie Youth Strategy, which was approved in June, 2011, and included a section outlining the benefits of internships for both the City and youth participants.
“It’s all about relationships,” said Alderman Kelly Hegg. “If you can get the interest and mentors, it will be beautiful.”
Leanne Hall, BBBS spokesperson, said the new mPower program focuses on discovering the potential and purpose of the youth participants through self-awareness and personal development; and attempts to build skills to support success and help participants reach their career goals.
City staff taking part will be asked to meet with the student they are matched with for 12 months, for a minimum of six to eight hours, with at least four hours spent in face-to-face meetings each month.
For the pilot project, staff hope to create five to 10 matches that could begin meeting as early as March, following the application process, which can take up to eight weeks and includes stringent background checks, an interview and training.
Hall said students can self-refer, opening up the mentorship opportunity to youth outside the GMHS leadership classes.
“This could be the start of something very big,” she said, adding City staff and youth can both benefit from the pilot.
Alderman Glenda Alexander expressed excitement about the program.
“I think this is going to be really well received from the students, as well as the staff, because they are really proud of the work they do,” she said.
If the pilot is successful, the City may expand the mentorship program to include other City departments, such as infrastructure and operations and Genesis Place, according to a staff report.
“Other City departments will likely be very interested,” said Robbie White, Airdrie’s youth developer. “I think we are really doing the pilot project as a way to learn what these hurdles would be.”
For more information, visit www.bbbscalgary.com