Written by: Erika Linskey, Director of New Circle Mentoring
On May 23, 2019, Mentor Vermont hosted the 4th annual Vermont Mentoring Symposium. The symposium is something that I look forward to all year seeing as how it brings together youth mentoring program leaders and supporters from all over Vermont.
The theme this year was Empowering Young People through a Strengths-Based Approach with Keynote Speaker Paul Suk-Hyun Yoon, the Senior Advisor for Strategic Diversity Assessment and Research at the University of Vermont.
Attendees could choose to participate in three excellent workshops; A Dialogue about Race and Equity for Mentoring Coordinators, LGBTQ+ Best Practices Training, and Youth Mental Health.
I was particularly impressed by Youth Mental Health, a powerful workshop led by Sean Perry, President of We R H.O.P.E. Perry mainly discussed the impact of chronic stress on young individuals, which relates directly to our mentees in the New Circle Mentoring program. The immediate loss of daily interaction with a parent who has been incarcerated has a strong impact on the child’s mental health. As stated by the Institute for Research on Poverty, the vast majority of incarcerated parents lived with their children prior to imprisonment, which can be emotionally stressful when that parent is no longer around for support and guidance. Perry explains that we can provide coping strategies to children to help alleviate the impact of stress in their daily lives.
Poverty Fact Sheet: Life Beyond Bars: Children with an Incarcerated Parent, Institute for Research on Poverty, www.irp.wisc.edu/publications/factsheets/pdfs/Factsheet7-Incarceration.pdf.