This fall, Courage to Change was awarded a $10,000 Step Up grant to help implement the Matrix Mentoring Group at Exeter’s Wilson Middle School. The Mentors are young men who were formally gang entrenched and court ordered to the program at Courage to Change. These individuals are acting as Peer Mentors to a selected group of 8th graders at the middle school that have been identified as “At Risk or High Risk Youth”.
The young men (“Mentors”) at Courage to Change are all individuals who have completed the 9 month program or are at near completion and have elected to stay on. Many positive things can be said of these young men who share their personal stories with the “At Risk” middle school youth (“Mentee’s”) in hope that they will understand the ramifications of risky behavior.
While it is not a “Scared Straight” scenario, it is definitely an “eye opener” to youth who do not understand what being incarcerated truly means. When adults speak, the Mentees may listen, but when the Peer Mentors speak, all eyes and ears are on them; this is where the real strength of the Matrix Mentoring program comes in.
The Peer Mentors have all set personal goals of completing High School and attending college locally. They understand that the best long term scenario is not always one that involves “going home” and back to the same environment that helped get them in trouble.
An evidence based curriculum is used for the Matrix Mentoring program in addition to “talk time” and group activities. There is a strong relationship between Wilson Middle School and the Matrix Mentoring Program which provides needed support. The sessions are conducted by Judy Gibson and Janice Markarian, Certified Mentor Facilitators at Courage to Change.
Thank you Step Up for providing us with the resources to help make a difference for our youth. This is a win-win scenario of Youth helping Youth!
Judy Gibson, Resource Development Coordinator
Courage to Change