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Mentor program leads to strong bond

Brody Williams and Ashlie Guest have forged a strong friendship over the past five months, after taking part in a pilot mentoring program that supports youth with disability.

The pilot program is part of the YMCA WA YMentoring program, for people aged seven to 20, connects mentees with adult volunteer mentors whose role is to offer support, guidance and friendship.

Brody Williams and Ashlie Guest have become fast friends.
Brody Williams and Ashlie Guest have become fast friends.

The Disability Services Commission finalised a partnership with the program last year and YMCA WA started matching mentees and mentors in December.

Participants were identified through their engagement with Local Area Coordination and the development of an individual plan identifying mentoring support.

Brody’s LAC Alan Dowds and her carer Joyce Foulkes recommended her to try it out late last year.

Brody, 14, lives in Wanneroo and has autism and post-traumatic stress. Ms Foulkes thought mentoring would be the perfect way to help improve her self-esteem and social skills.

Ashlie, who also lives in Wanneroo, applied to volunteer with YMentoring because she wanted to support a young person after losing her niece to suicide three years ago.

YMCA WA Mentoring Manager Tim Galloway said, although the two young women had to overcome a few awkward silences at the beginning, they were now close friends.

“They have been enjoying lots of adventures together – they’ve spent time petting the rabbits at the Swan Valley Cuddly Animal Farm, got lost in The Maze in Bullsbrook and rode a tandem bike at Elizabeth Quay,” he said.

“Brody tells us she feels safe with Ashlie – that she was even there to provide support when Brody’s mum passed away.

“The two young women have struck a great balance of having fun together and talking through some of the challenges Brody’s been experiencing, such as bullying incidents at school.”

A YMentoring volunteer training session was held in April to enable the organisation to match more volunteers with young people like Brody.

YMCA WA hopes to continue the mentor-mentee matches beyond the initial 12-month timelines of the pilot program so that the organisation can trial a model of support for young people with disability that can be potentially implemented in future programs.

For more about volunteering with YMentoring, phone 9227 0479 or email ymentoring@ymcawa.org.au .

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