Jayson Forrest is the managing editor of Money & Life Magazine.
Puddle Jumpers’ MinTies (Mentors in Training) program is empowering at risk youth to develop their social, communication and problem-solving skills – helping to improve their self-esteem and confidence.
As the parent of a teenager, Tim Lindsay is only too aware of the emotional challenges that many young Australians face daily. Of particular concern to the CFP® professional, who works as a financial adviser at Adelaide-based Roe Financial Services, is the failings of the South Australia state government to provide adequate support and services to local youth in need.
“This lack of support and services for youth in Adelaide has been an area of significant concern, due to the failings of the state government and associated agencies,” Tim says. “However, I know that those who provide care for youth, especially the most vulnerable, do a fantastic job but their resources continue to be stretched.”
It was from this standpoint that Tim decided to endorse the Future2 grant application of Puddle Jumpers – a local non-profit, non-government funded organisation committed to responding to the social development needs of vulnerable children and young people, with a focus on helping children who do not live with their birth parents.
“Puddle Jumpers is known in the local area for the great work it does helping families and especially young people needing that extra support. It is a program that builds skills and ability to help them in the long-run and not just helping with their immediate needs,” says Tim.
“So, when I realised that the aims of the Future2 Make the Difference! Grants program and Puddle Jumpers were well aligned, I felt it was an opportunity to help a local organisation that is largely self-funded from donations and grants.”
Having commenced in May 2012, Puddle Jumpers provides opportunities and support for children and their families who are at risk. This is done through holidays and recreational activities designed to promote personal, social, cultural growth and development.
Programs, such as Puddle Jumpers’ MinTies (Mentors in Training) program, are designed to empower young Australians to develop social, communication, co-operation, team building, conflict management and problem-solving skills, as well as developing self-esteem and confidence. The community work that Puddle Jumpers is involved with also impressed the Future2 judges, who awarded the organisation a $10,000 grant for its MinTies program.
According to Elyse Moon – a coordinator at Jumping Puddles – the MinTies program specifically targets young people aged 13-15 years. The program is aimed at developing early leadership training to at risk youth, with an aim of encouraging them to become a volunteer of one of the charity’s camps.
The MinTies program is conducted during one of Puddle Jumpers’ camps for children, where the role of a ‘mentor in training’ (MinTie) is to ensure that the children on camp enjoy themselves in a safe environment.
Elyse says the MinTies program aims to empower young people to develop their conflict and behaviour management, communication, team building and problem-solving skills in a safe and fun environment, with the guidance of volunteers.
“The program offers first aid and bronze medallion training for our young people, which helps to further their skills and personal development,” Elyse says.
“As many of the young people we work with have been through crisis and trauma, they can find it hard to engage in a normal learning setting. So, this program aims to ensure these at risk youth are able to engage to the best of their ability, by providing them with a comfortable space and the opportunity to further their education and employment options.”
To date, the MinTies program has proven to be a great success, with several of its past MinTies, graduating as full volunteers of Jumping Puddles’ programs, and going on to take leadership positions at its camps.
“From a relatively modest home, Puddle Jumpers does some amazing work and conducts programs that really make a positive change in the lives of young people at risk,” Tim says. “I think if they can help someone to move forward, then that is a great outcome and aligns with my personal philosophy of ‘helping people to help themselves’.”
Elyse firmly believes the objectives and vision of both Puddle Jumpers and the Future2 Foundation are closely aligned.
“The MinTies program is providing opportunities for disadvantaged young people, helping them grow from being socially excluded to living productive lives in the community,” she says. “This program not only develops them as responsible young people but it also increases the opportunities they have for future employment.”
The $10,000 grant will help fund 40 participants in the MinTies program achieve their Apply Basic First Aid (formally known as Senior First Aid) and Bronze Medallion qualifications.
“We will also add the Future2 logo to the MinTies graduation certificate for all our graduates,” Elyse says.
Tim adds: “One thing Puddle Jumpers aims for is to make young people more ‘able’ by giving them skills and responsibilities that build confidence and purpose.
“Its programs are designed to help young people move beyond their own issues by training them to help others, which can motivate them to feel like being an important part of the fabric of society.
“In essence, this Future2 grant will help these kids to work with others, not against them, and that’s a good thing.”