When Grace first met 10-year-old Jasmine, Jasmine refused to speak. She stood with arms crossed and lips pursed. Grace had been assigned to Jasmine, as a Kids Hope mentor, to meet together once a week at school.
After a few weeks, Grace brought out a Kids Hope tool designed to help with identifying emotions. She asked Jasmine if she could circle the face that represented how she was feeling and Jasmine circled “shy”. When asked why, she wrote, “stranger”.
This insight into Jasmine’s inner world helped increase Grace’s understanding, as she continued to show up with compassion. Then, Jasmine began to speak. Through their conversations, Grace learned that Jasmine liked to think about her ‘dream house’, so they shared an activity the following week designing her dream home and creating rooms for her family members.
The following week was dramatically different. Grace arrived to see Jasmine on the floor kicking and screaming. When Grace asked the teacher what had happened, she explained that from early in life Jasmine had been moved between the care of her mum and her auntie, both of them not being in a place to capably care for Jasmine well. The result was a deep-seeded feeling of rejection. Jasmine had recently been sent to a foster home one hour away from school. Each day a different person, a stranger, drove her to and from school. It would take the school an hour to coax Jasmine into the car at the end of each day to go home. On this particular day, she was about to meet her new counsellor, another stranger. Grace’s heart sank as she thought about the trauma and rejection that Jasmine had experienced and how frightened she was by the constant stream of strangers.
When Jasmine came out of her counselling appointment she looked up, saw Grace, and ran to her, throwing her arms around her. She was so relieved to see a person she could count on, and all Grace had done was turn up each week and show care.
Then came COVID. Jasmine wasn’t coping well. The Assistant Principal’s first thought was to find a way for Jasmine to see Grace, as they had witnessed the impact that mentoring was having. The school offered to set up a Zoom meeting for Jasmine with Grace. Grace was thrilled and Jasmine was so excited to see Grace that she did a happy dance! Grace joined in and they did a virtual happy dance together.
“Do for one kid what you wish you could do for every kid.” – Josh Shipp
Mentoring is a simple but profound way to let a child know they are seen and valued. Positive adult relationships are shown to have a buffering effect for a child experiencing hard things and can help build resilience. Showing up consistently, giving time and attention to a child doing it tough, can have a lasting impact.
The Homeward Project exists to equip local churches to make a difference for children and families involved in the Out-of-Home Care system. We connect churches to opportunities to have a significant local impact and one of those opportunities is mentoring with Kids Hope Australia.
Kids Hope is Australia’s largest early intervention, school-based mentoring program for children experiencing vulnerability. Kids Hope can equip you to connect your church with a local primary school and through the care and support of volunteer mentors, children’s lives can be transformed.