Young people are needing a helping hand more than ever! Across Aotearoa we still have a shocking youth suicide rate, one in five young people now face mental health issues, and regular school attendance is sitting at a mere 60%.
Today, I’m asking for your support to continue reaching more disadvantaged young people, like Kenneth, who need an Upside mentor in their life.
Kenneth, 10, has barriers in life beyond his control, but being matched with a mentor has opened up a world of possibilities. Will you support Upside so that Kenneth and other young people can have an extra positive influence in their life?
By making a gift today you will help Upside to match young people with a volunteer mentor, and support their 12-month transformational journey.
Before getting a mentor, Kenneth was typically stuck in his room, glued to a device. He lacked confidence and struggled to trust people. His mum Pharryn, a solo parent, was worried about her long work hours and lack of time with Kenneth and his two siblings.
In October, things changed for Kenneth when we matched him with a big-hearted volunteer mentor, Chao-Fu, an easygoing guy with a touch of dry humor. Kenneth wondered if a mentor was like a counsellor – just asking lots of questions and no fun!
Over the following months, Kenneth found a real connection with Chao-Fu. Playing games, trying new foods including tofu which Kenneth found ‘nice and sweet’, or learning new skills (Kenneth’s now an expert with chopsticks!).
Months later, they’re talking about Kenneth’s future – from interview advice for a Dilworth School scholarship to dreaming of a career as an architect. Chao-Fu sees Kenneth’s thought processes deepening and his outlook on life expanding.
As Kenneth learns how to trust, he has been able to open up to Chao-Fu. Kenneth tells us, “I can trust when I talk to him. He's a person that I can talk to sometimes about secret stuff.”
When we asked Kenneth to think what life might be like if he hadn’t met Chao-Fu, he fell silent. It’s not something he wanted to imagine for a moment.
Since being involved with Upside, Kenneth’s world has opened up. Kenneth said: “Before [having a mentor] I wasn't really comfortable. I was really nervous. But now I know that I can trust people and be comfortable [around them]. I trust Chao-Fu the most.”
His mother, Pharryn, noticed changes too, "The biggest change I’ve seen has definitely been growth, I’ve noticed how confident he is in carrying himself and what he says... Actually knowing what he's saying and expanding on his deeper thoughts, that was amazing for me to notice!"
Life has forever changed for Kenneth since meeting Chao-Fu. His home life hasn’t changed, but how he looks at life has. And he’s found a new skill as an artist, with Chao-Fu’s encouragement. With your support, we can match more young people like Kenneth with a mentor, to open up life-changing conversations and experiences by generously donating towards:
Youth mentoring is a proven, life-changing early intervention. But without community support, we are unable to connect with more young people in need.
You can be the difference, helping young people reach this 12-month goal. For Kenneth and Chao-Fu, with several months to go, they’re not there yet!
Will you make a gift today? In Kenneth’s own words “…You can help other kids experience new things, who haven't done [a lot of things] before.”
His mother, Pharryn, told us, "As parents we may think we have all the answers and know what's best for our children, but having that extra set of ears, eyes, and the heart has enriched my parenting skills. We are so thankful for Chao-Fu and Upside, they’ve changed our worlds for the better, beyond what I ever would have imagined."
By making a gift before August 31st, our team can match more young people before the end of Term 3! I strongly believe that every vulnerable young person is just one caring mentor away from a success story.