Title

Transforming Youth from Within

First Presenter's Institution

University of West Georgia

Second Presenter's Institution

University of West Georgia

Third Presenter's Institution

NA

Fourth Presenter's Institution

NA

Fifth Presenter's Institution

NA

Location

Plimsoll

Strand #1

Social & Emotional Skills

Strand #2

Safety & Violence Prevention

Relevance

This presentation addresses a unique undertaking in mentoring that embraces a humanistic and spiritual model that is transforming both high-risk youth and their mentors. The approaches utilized by the mentoring program are practically applicable on educational campuses in urban areas. This presentation will reveal the value of the mentor’s identity and integrity with youth that transforms lives. The data will assist audience members in possible ways to reconsider their approaches and perspectives in working with youth from high-risk backgrounds.

Brief Program Description

This presentation will share SPARK Mentoring program’s journey of letting go of traditional behavioral models in working with youth from high-risk backgrounds, and provide evidenced-based insight into creating a community of acceptance through a program that embraces identity and integrity as a way to connect undergraduate students and youth. This workshop is for any individual who works with youth in any capacity.

Summary

Traditionally throughout mentoring research and literature a significant amount of the focus is based solely upon external behavioral outcomes. Our research examines qualitative data from the perspective of youth that is essential to our understanding of how to connect with youth from high-risk backgrounds on a soulful level—that place where critical decisions are born. This presentation will reveal the impact of how youth and university undergraduate students participated in a mentoring program where they become vulnerable and very real through sharing the influences that have shaped their lives, also called COSMOS, and the impact this experience has had upon the youth’s lives. All participants reported on how their experiences with the COSMOS was the one event that brought about the biggest changes to their understanding of themselves, connected them to the mentors and gave them hope. The experience of delivering and or listening to another person sharing intimate aspects of their lives they may not have shared with family and friends empowers the mentoring program community with an increased level of safety emotionally, mentally, and physically. Many youth noted the COSMOS is what made them stay engaged in the program when they wanted to leave. All the participants provide examples of how the COSMOS enabled them to empathically understand others, and expand their perspectives intrapersonally and interpersonally. This research study and presentation will present an opportunity for further exploration of how ones identity and integrity are a conduit to transforming youth identified as high-risk as well as their mentors.

Evidence

This presentation draws on qualitative research utilizing individual interviews of youth identified as high-risk and college student mentors. All of the participants revealed that what broke down the barriers was when the college student mentors opened up, revealing their joys, pains, struggles, abuses and brokenness’s through sharing their COSMOS. This was one of the most significant aspect of their experience in the mentoring program that not only kept them engaged in the program, but also created a sense of community.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Tom Peterson is a professor at the University of West Georgia, Founder, and Director of the SPARK Mentoring program, and has been in education for over 40 years. Since 2009, Peterson, has passionately ignited a movement with youth by encouraging educators to see and treat youth as sacred. His advocacy has led him to creating SPARK, and fostering a community of stakeholders ranging from the Dept. of Juvenile Justice, local judges, community organizations, and local businesses to support the youth in West Georgia.

Mileigh Rabun is a senior at the University of West Georgia while teaching 3 grade at Northside Elementary in Coweta County. She has been involved with the SPARK program since 2015.

Keyword Descriptors

Identity, Transformation, High-risk, At-risk, Youth, Mentoring, Community-based, Qualitative Research

Presentation Year

2018

Start Date

3-6-2018 1:00 PM

End Date

3-6-2018 4:00 PM

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Mar 6th, 1:00 PM Mar 6th, 4:00 PM

Transforming Youth from Within

Plimsoll

This presentation will share SPARK Mentoring program’s journey of letting go of traditional behavioral models in working with youth from high-risk backgrounds, and provide evidenced-based insight into creating a community of acceptance through a program that embraces identity and integrity as a way to connect undergraduate students and youth. This workshop is for any individual who works with youth in any capacity.