Kids Up Front provides free access to sporting, arts, cultural, recreational and educational events to deserving children under 18. The children we serve are experiencing poverty, homelessness, family breakdown, or mental and physical health issues. They are from vulnerable and at-risk populations. Kids Up Front would love to create a program that is just for mentors and the youth they support; we partner with 208 child-serving agencies in the city and surrounding communities; many of these agencies have mentorship programs. Mentors play a very important role in prevention, support, and engagement with at-risk and vulnerable youth; most often they do not have a budget that allows them to engage their mentee in community events, activities and positive, healthy and safe recreational opportunities (all protective factors for vulnerable populations). The Mentors Matter program would specifically allow mentors and mentees to attend events together and with other mentors/youths. This would allow for social inclusion of society’s most deserving, provide support to mentors in getting their kids involved in the community, expose them to arts and cultural events that may be new to them, spend quality time developing a trusting relationship engaged in positive activities, and provide enriching opportunities to develop and practice social/ life skills in the greater community. Mentors and mentees could socialize together and gain valuable skills, insights and support from one another. This benefits the mentees in terms of their exposure to activities and the development of new skills, enhances the ability of the mentor to connect with the youth and build a positive relationship, supports the work of the agency in terms of engaging the mentors/mentees in positive recreational pursuits at no cost to the participants or referring agency.
Who Will it Benefit?
This grant would directly benefit hundreds of youths in the city of Calgary and surrounding smaller centers in Southern Alberta. These youth are at risk and vulnerable due to many factors such as homelessness, unemployment, family breakdown, mental health and addiction issues, isolation, physical and developmental challenges, disruption of education, poverty, physical and sexual abuse and abandonment. These youth work with mentors from McMan Youth, Family and Community Services, Wood’s Homes, Hull Homes, Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Avenue 15, Discovering Choices alternative school programs, Stardale Women’s Group Mentoring Program, Aspen Family Services, Boys and Girls Clubs, etc. This program would provide direct benefit to these vulnerable youths through and in conjunction with their mentors. A $5000 grant would provide hundreds of youths and their mentors with access to events, sporting, arts and cultural opportunities, providing enrichment activities and experiences directly and in the hands of the mentors/mentees.