250-286-0611 Campbell River........... 250-338-7341 Courtenay mail@jhsni.bc.ca

How can the program help your child?

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KidStart is a 1-to-1 mentoring program in Campbell River (and area) and the Comox Valley that is designed for children and youth aged 6-18 who are struggling (not doing well at school, at home or in the community and have the potential to become at-risk).  Volunteer mentors spend a minimum of 3 hours per week for a year or longer with their mentees doing recreational activities (hiking, baking, crafts, swimming, etc).

100% of children and youth involved in KidStart for a year or longer report it has a positive impact on their self-esteem and confidence.  Mentors make a big difference in the lives of the children they are matched with.  Children and youth that are linked to mentors are more likely to complete school, develop healthy relationships with peers and family, and less likely to initiate alcohol and drug use.

Frequently asked questions

and our best answers
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What is the purpose of KidStart?

Answer

Your child will be paired with an adult volunteer mentor who they will see for 3 or more hours per week of fun.  The mentor’s role is to develop a supportive relationship, be a consistent positive role model, and encourage participation in recreational activities that let your child experience success and gain self-confidence.  The time they spend together will give your child new and exciting experiences and the opportunity to relate to someone outside of the family.

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Can we be involved in choosing the mentor for my child?

Answer

Yes. The KidStart Coordinators involve parents, guardians and potential mentees extensively in choosing just the right mentor.  Age, interests, location and personality of both the mentee and mentor are collaboratively considered before making an introduction.  Parents, guardians and potential mentees decide if the program is right for them and if they would like to continue.

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What is my role as a parent/guardian?

Answer

To meet with the John Howard KidStart Coordinator to discuss the program, answer questions and sign permission slips.  For younger children it is also helpful for families to remind them of KidStart times.

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Who makes arrangements for outings?

Answer

The volunteer mentor will arrange a time that is good for you both. The mentor will pick up your child and drop him or her off.

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What will the volunteer mentor and my child do together?

Answer

They will spend 3 or more hours together every week doing activities like visiting the park, sports, baking, walking the dog or crafts.  KidStart staff encourage mentors to look for free or low cost activities that interest both mentors and mentees.

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Question

Will my child be safe with the volunteer mentor?

Answer

Yes. Volunteer mentors are thoroughly screened and interviewed by John Howard staff.  Mentors must provide four references, driver’s abstract, 2 criminal record checks (1 from the RCMP and 1 from the BC Ministry of Justice), 3 interviews and a home assessment.  KidStart also provides ongoing training, support and weekly supervision to volunteer mentors.

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Is there a cost involved?

Answer

There is no fee and John Howard KidStart volunteer mentors are encouraged to keep expenses to a minimum.

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Is KidStart a form of counselling?

Answer

No. This program is not counselling or social work. Volunteers are positive role models and additional supports for your child as she or he grows up.

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Question

Is there a waitlist and how long does the program go on for?

Answer

Yes. In the Comox Valley it’s a 6month to 2 year wait and in the Campbell River area it is a 2 year to 5 year wait.  The good news is that mentees and their families love being involved in the program, so it’s well worth the wait.  Many matches continue until children graduate from the program at age 18, and some develop in to lifelong friendships.

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How do I refer my child to KidStart?

Answer

Referrals for KidStart typically come from professionals (counsellors, teachers, support workers, EA’s, social workers, etc) connected to a child or family.   If you would like to refer your child, please have a professional fill out the referral form provided at the link below and have it forwarded to Tara Jordan tara@jhsni.bc.ca, fax: 250-286-3650 in Campbell River and  Wendy Thurlborn wendyt@jhsni.bc.ca, fax: 250338-6568 in the Comox Valley.

KidStart Referral Form

2015 Program Outcomes

Data gathered from voluntary mentors, mentees and family members

mentees were matched with volunteering mentors.

hours were given by mentors to provide positive role modelling for children and youth ages 6-18 through recreational based friendships.

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of mentees said that they are doing better in school.

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of mentees felt that they have increased connections with peer and friends.

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of mentees believe that their relationships with family emembers have improved.

“As a school counselor, I have had the opportunity to work and interact with many children with varying degrees of social and emotional challenges. Through my work, I have learned that the most important mitigating factor in helping to develop resilient children is for kids to have a strong mentoring relationship with a trusted adult. While most of our children have this type of relationship with a parent or a family member, the vulnerable few are not so blessed. The KidStart program goes a long way to fill that void in our community.”

- School Counselor, Comox

“Before my son had a mentor he was headed towards a very self-destructive path…he would get in fights at school, be in the principal’s office at least twice a week, use very bad language, sit around the house not wanting to do any activities, and have no respect for his family at home. Since meeting his mentor, he has improved already with having someone that can spend time with just him…he has not had any fights at school or been in the principles office yet this year. He does not swear anymore, thanks to a chat about inappropriate language from his mentor. He looks forward to the activities that he and his mentor are going to do for the week. No more just sitting around the house fighting with his brother.” 

- Mom of a 10-year-old Mentee

“My granddaughter has more pride and confidence because of her mentor’s commitment over the years. She was patient and helped her understand things about life and the difficulties she faced. Her mentor encouraged and coached her to her best at school. Raising grand-kids is hard and this program has helped me more than words can say.”

- Grandma of a 18-year-old Mentee

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