Our idea is called Leaders Now. It is a ‘Pay it Forward’ concept where a 12-week mentoring program, Kids Now, is facilitated by its alumni.
Kids Now is a free after-school program delivered to grade 7 and 8 students which focuses on essential “life-success” skills that build self-confidence and leadership. Its educator-endorsed curriculum consists of developing self-esteem and skills in goal setting, communication, conflict resolution, and managing stress. A proactive, preventative program, volunteers use interactive skill-based games and fun educational activities to build a foundation of self-compassion and resiliency which enables students to handle peer pressure, bullying, school or family issues, stress, anxiety, and depression.
Where the Kids Now program is delivered by volunteers, the Leaders Now initiative will be facilitated by grade 11 or 12 students who graduated from Kids Now. The students become a coach-mentor to a group of 10 grade 7 and 8 students, further evolving their leadership, self esteem, and other skills they developed when they were participants.
Leaders Now fills a gap, a self-development need for many deserving youth that don’t have positive role models or support in their home environment or school. Going through adolescence has a profound impact on the cognitive, social, and emotional lives of 10 to 14 year-olds. Mentoring them at this vulnerable age is the ideal window of opportunity, before problems might arise, to teach key coping and developmental skills. These skills will be significant and required to avoid peer pressure, substance abuse, dropping out of high school, and will increase their opportunities for academic success, employment, advancing their careers, and maintaining positive mental well-being.
Since Fall of 2009, 2700 kids have graduated from 263 Kids Now programs in Edmonton.
Who Will it Benefit?
Girls and boys aged 10-14 living primarily in lower income, disadvantaged neighborhoods of Edmonton.
The participants develop self-compassion, self-esteem, confidence, and learn goal setting, communication skills, conflict resolution techniques, and how to manage stress. They also build employment readiness skills such as teamwork, personal management, decision making and problem solving.
In surveys conducted in Spring of 2016,
100% of students felt more confident
100% understand more about setting goals and how to achieve them
100% understand how to handle stress more positively
98% feel they can handle conflicts more positively
91% feel they are able to communicate better
90% say the Kids Now program is helping them to deal with today’s problems and
Graduates of program who are coach-mentors learn facilitation, teaching, coaching, and mentoring, in addition to practicing and improving the skills they learned as a participant.
A Social Return on Investment Study (SROI) was conducted by the Rotman School of Management and it estimated for each $1 invested in Kids Now, a+25% average yearly rate of return is generated to society. This is a result of increased academic success, a greater likelihood of going to post-secondary education, improved employment prospects, productivity of program participants, decreased health care, social, and justice system costs. Rotman estimated that the Kids Now contribution to the communities served by our programs in the first ten years was $17 million.
Changing one life for the better can influence the lives of hundreds and have a ‘ripple effect’ as those that are influenced influence others. The investment in a child becomes an investment in a community.