Monday, July 20, 2009

Youth Mentoring Week in Australia

One of my favorite parts of being the Tutor/Mentor Connection Research and Networking Coordinator is finding out how tutoring and mentoring programs collaborate in other cities, states and countries throughout the world, just as the Tutor/Mentor Connection does in Chicago. The concept of volunteers giving their time as tutors and mentors is very foreign in a lot of countries, but a country where this tradition is as strong as in the United States is in Australia.

This year, the last week in October, October 25-31st, Australia will be hosting a National Youth Mentoring Week. According to Youth, basically the Tutor/Mentor Connection of Australia, Youth Mentoring Week is "a celebration throughout Australia of youth mentoring, and all its success, potential and opportunity." This is a wonderful idea, and Youth Mentoring encourages all mentoring programs throughout Australia to host an event, let the media know about a success story, or do something on their own. There are scheduled events already throughout Australia that can be found here.

Like the Tutor/Mentor Connection, Youth also considers collaboration between programs. It even helps connect programs on their website, much like the Tutor/Mentor Connection tries to do through various ways such as the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference.

In fact, the Tutor/Mentor Connection used to host a Tutor/Mentor Week as well. From 1994-1999, the Tutor/Mentor Connection collaborated with tutoring and mentoring programs throughout the city of Chicago and the surrounding suburbs to host a week where tutoring and mentoring was in the spotlight. The week culminated in the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference and the Sun-Times Judge Marovitz Lawyers Lend-a-Hand Benefit in November.

Another similar event that we still host, but that's not quite as big as it used to be is the Volunteer Recruitment Campaign. From 1999-2002, politicians such as Mayor Daley, athletes, local celebrities, and the media all lended their names and their publicity to back what tutoring and mentoring does to help youth succeed. There were article written in the local newspapers, libraries, bookstores, coffeeshops and many more sites had booths where people could sign up to be a volunteer tutor/mentor.

The reason why the Volunteer Recruitment Campaign in Chicago fell to the wayside was lack of funding for someone to help plan it. In my time here at Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection, I have tried to resurrect the Volunteer Recruitment Campaign and the Tutor/Mentor Week with limited success. I'm trying again this year to gather leaders in the tutoring and mentoring community, but also in the legal, medical, religious, media, and business communities to help me get an event like this going again. However, I'm only one person. If you'd like to help with getting an event going in Chicago like the one that's happening in October in Australia, please leave a comment or call us at 312-492-9614. This is a great idea, and I think Chicago deserves to have an event as wonderful as the one in Australia.

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