I’m a youth coach. Paula Sanchez Paoli. That’s me on the left hand side. It’s a job I take very seriously. It’s also a privilege. What I do is rewarding because I’m committed to empowering young people. One of my favourite things to do with youth is to help them see themselves; I remind them of their potential. I help them lead their own future. My top tips are below.
I currently work with 16-21 year olds. They are all students – we call them ākonga. They have had their education negatively impacted by the pandemic and they’re at risk of disengaging. I work with a team at Triple Summits. We use a strengths-based approach to identify risk factors and barriers, then we work with ākonga to reduce these.
Here are my six top tips
1. Be present and attentive. Often ākonga really need to be heard. Take the time to listen to what they have to say. Ask questions!
2. Don’t label. There is a big difference between being disengaged from school and being a disengaged student. Try to understand where the behaviour is coming from, and tackle the behaviour, not the person.
3. Be consistent. It takes time to build trust in a relationship. Young people will test you before they are sure they can count on you. Be patient along the journey.
4. Be grateful for their trust. It takes courage to open up and ask for help.
5. Every step forward is a win. Take time to acknowledge their effort and progress.
6. Every goal achieved, small or big, is a step in the right direction.
BONUS TIP! Seek individuality. Each young person is different. Tailor your guidance to their specific circumstances.
Being a youth coach is a decision I make every day. It is a role that fulfils my eagerness to be an active participant in society. I am committed. I try my best to support youth. These six techniques have informed my personal code of ethics that I’ve built over time. I actively try to put these into practice with young people every day. It pays off.
“The relationships I’ve built, and the transformations I’ve seen, tell me that these techniques work”
Give them a go! They’re not just for students. Use them with your tamariki, whānau, friends and colleagues! Soon you’ll build your own top tips that work in your context.
About the Ākonga Pathway Programme
Triple Summits delivers a 12 week face-to-face mentoring service to ākonga who have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are funded by the Ākonga Community Youth Development Fund through the Ministry of Youth Development, in partnership with the Ministry of Education. We are proud to support youth through all life situations, and all alert levels, to a brighter future.
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