by guest blogger Erin Latz
Hi, My name is Erin and I would like to share with you my Gold Award project for Girl Scouts this past year.
I started a peer mentor program at my high school because of a personal experience with a friend who just needed to talk to someone because she was dealing with depression and anxiety. Aside from professional help, she needed someone who could relate to her stress of school and being a teenage girl in general. I decided that sometimes friends are too emotionally invested in their friend’s problems, but a peer would be more objective.
If you are interested in helping others and bringing peer mentoring to your school, here are the six steps to how I started my project. Good luck with yours!
1. Get help from an advisor.
Fortunately, I was able to get two advisors to support my project. I told my religion teacher about my ideas and she offered to help, and the Director of Guidance also offered to assist.
2. Come up with a creative name.
The name of my peer mentor program is called Girl 2 Girl. (G2G) because it is important that the students you are appealing to feel a connection with the group. I attend an all-girls school so the name seemed relatable to my audience.
3. Determine interest.
I enlisted the school’s morning news show to broadcast an announcement for any rising sophomores and juniors to apply for Girl 2 Girl if they were interested in becoming a peer mentor. I worked with my advisors to create an application to have students fill out if they were interested in the program. The application consisted of questions about why they wanted to become a mentor for this program and what unique skills they could contribute to the program.
I organized training with the advisors for the girls we selected through the application process. The focus was how to be an active and supportive listener. The peer mentors also learned the difference between counseling and peer mentoring. At no time was any counseling done. Confidentiality was also crucial for the trust building of peer mentors and students.
5. Stay organized.
Every month I organized a Google doc for girls to sign up for their preferred time, location (such as an unoccupied classroom, or a spot in our library), and day in their schedule that worked best for them. The document was anonymous to other viewers so no one knew which of their classmates signed up. As each response came in, I sent an email out to all of the G2G mentors, and it was a first-come-first-serve. I would also take part in the mentoring, but I made sure the other mentors were able to do sessions as well.
6. Get active on social media.
I created a weekly Twitter for Girl2Girl! I post inspirational quotes focusing on positive self-esteem, self-confidence and empowerment.