Meet 3 youth mentors – a former early childhood teacher, a life coach and a UN development worker.

People become youth mentors for all sorts of reasons, and come to this work from all sorts of backgrounds. We want to introduce you to 3 of them today. Some have been doing this work for many years and some are new to the youth mentor space. In this episode you’ll get to hear from:

Angela Nicole from Bloom Within in regional Australia

Jess van Groningen from Wild Nature Connection and Girl Tribe Goulburn and

Aruna Pant from Golden Heart Mentors in Kathmandu, Nepal.

This is a snippet of a longer Alumni Panel we ran featuring graduates of our Youth Mentor Training last year.

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generic intro

Hello and welcome to the youth mentor podcast. This is your short burst of inspiration tips and research about teens for parents, educators, and mentors. I’m your host, Amanda Rootsey, founder of teen personal development school Shine From Within and coach to incredible youth mentors all over the world. Now I certainly don’t know it all.

So I interview the experts about what’s going on for youth today. From psychological insights to really practical advice, this is your moment of inspiration, motivation, and a few laughs amidst the ever changing world of teens and tweens.

Episode Begins

[00:00:00] Amanda: Hello and welcome to the youth mentor podcast. This is your short burst of inspiration tips and research about teens for parents, educators, and mentors. I’m your host, Amanda Rootsey, founder of teen personal development school Shine From Within and coach to incredible youth mentors all over the world. Now I certainly don’t know it all.

[00:00:18] So I interview the experts about what’s going on for youth today. From psychological insights to really practical advice, this is your moment of inspiration, motivation, and a few laughs amidst the ever changing world of teens and tweens.

[00:00:32] Hello, welcome to this episode. Um, we’re doing something a little bit different again, here for you today. I really want to introduce you to three youth mentors. Some of which have been doing this for quite a few years. Um, say five years, at least, and some who are, have recently graduated from the youth mentor training. And they’re quite new in the space. 

[00:00:56] Um, Yeah, just to get some different perspectives. This, this is actually going to be some little snippets from an alumni. Uh, like round table discussion that we had last year, where I, um, was joined by about six different youth mentors. From around the world is sharing, sharing what they’re going through and what they love and the way that they work. And, um, 

[00:01:18] I just had this thought that you might really like to have a little listen to this as well. So I’m going to be introducing you to three youth mentors. One is Angela Nicole. Angela runs bloom within in regional Victoria. And, um, yeah, I’m looking forward to introducing you to, to Angela. We’ve got a Aruna Pant who is, um, she’s a youth mentor in Katmandu in Nepal, and she’s also. 

[00:01:45] I’m a support mentor for our trainees in the, in the youth mentor training too. She’s got a lot of experience working with young people. Um, with the UN for, for many years. And we’ve got Jess van groan and Jen as well, who, um, is also in Australia. And she really works with the land and does a lot of nature connection with young people. 

[00:02:08] Um, which is just so, so beautiful. Um, Yeah. These three people are. Incredible. And I’m really thrilled to be able to, to share these little snippets with you. So I hope you enjoy. Enjoy these chats and um yeah let’s get into 

[00:02:22] Amanda: About you,Angela, how are you going? I feel like you’re a bit of a youth mentor veteran. 

[00:02:30] Angela Nicole: I’m just away in pixie land, listening to everybody. Um, when Bec said that she’d been with you since 2016 or something, I was thinking, gosh, it feels like I’ve been with you forever as well.

[00:02:44] I’m not sure exactly when that might be 16 or 17. Yeah. I feel like Leah might know. Yeah. It’s.

[00:02:55] Yeah. Um, but it’s just, yeah, it’s the journey. And ever since I did, the training has just been fantastic. And I started out doing life coaching course back in 2013, I think it was, and I was life coaching women. Um, and then always had an interest in the teens because, you know, I think from your own, um, you know, from your own childhood and your own teenage [years], you know, everyone’s got stuff.

[00:03:28] And, and I remember thinking that would be such a great thing to be able to help teens, but I just didn’t know how or how I would even get into that field. And the more that I spoke to women, the more that they said, you know, ‘my daughter needs to hear this. Do you work with girls?’ So I just sort of naturally went down that path and was looking for something.

[00:03:49] And as soon as I saw yours, um, on Aussie home ground, I was sold straight away. Um, and yeah, it’s just been the best thing, the best thing ever. And I, the community is amazing and the support is amazing. So thank you – it’s been a wonderful journey, so far. 

[00:04:12] Amanda: Thanks for being part of the community.

[00:04:14] Angela Nicole: Yeah, it’s great. 

[00:04:17] Amanda: And what’s um, what have you got coming up for this year, what are some of the things you’re doing? 

[00:04:24] Angela Nicole: So workshops will start up again, uh, in February, middle of February. So I had, I used to have my own office space running workshops and one-on-one mentoring and coaching. And then in March, 2020, that all got shut down.

[00:04:40] Um, so it has been a challenging couple of years. I ended up bringing my business home, which I never thought I would. Um, and this is my, my office space here. So it’s actually been a blessing because the girls actually love it better here at home. I think coming to a home environment and the dogs are in the room and, you know, it’s quiet, it’s peaceful and we’re on, on five acres, so we’re just out in nature. Um, so that’s actually been a blessing, um, with COVID and the workshops were a little bit trickier. I could still hold them at home, but not have as many girls. And I ended up setting up my big bell tent, um, and holding, holding the workshops in that. And again, the girls love it and I can’t get rid of them.

[00:05:32] They won’t leave because they love the tent, which is a great thing. Um, but that also comes with its challenges as well, because you know, having the tent set up, um, and you are out in nature and now it’s hot. So we’ve packed the tent away. So, um, but I’ve actually, you know, through looking at, um, perhaps hiring a space, I spoke to someone who put me on to someone else who put me onto somebody else, and I’ve now ended up at the, we’ve got a youth space in the center of town. And so I’m going to try running the workshops from there, which I think is just, it’s going to be different, but I’ve, I’ve got a really good feel about it as well.

[00:06:18] Um, it will be different to the tent because the girls love the tent, but I think long-term, um, this will be a better option in supporting the service that is there. Um, yeah, it’s just got a really good feel about it and I’ll still be able to do the tent on school holidays and things like that and bring that back again because I do love that.

[00:06:39] So that’s sort of where I’m at at the moment. It has been a little bit topsy-turvy um, but you just take the opportunities when they, when they arise. And I feel like you just never know what’s around the corner. Um, so yeah, always just taking you new opportunities. So I can’t wait to start the workshops up again.

[00:06:59] I really miss them. 

[00:07:01] Amanda: Yeah. Great. And, and did you find, did you find you, you did offer one-on-one stuff online during lockdowns and things, or did you just have a bit of a break? 

[00:07:15] Angela Nicole: We were still able to have one-on-ones um, here. So that was really good. The group workshops we weren’t allowed to do, but, um, yeah, we, I was allowed to have the one-on-one so that didn’t stop, but actually got busier, which was really good.

[00:07:32] And especially when, in 2020, it was a lot busier than 2021. Um, but I did see an increase in mental health and a lot of the younger girls that sort of nine to 12 age group having a lot of fear and a lot of anxiety and a lot of worry. So I was seeing quite a few of the younger girls, as well as older girls.

[00:08:01] Amanda: It seems like the, it seems like quite suddenly, there’s a really big demand for one-on-one mentoring now more than ever. Yes. Makes sense. Yeah. 

[00:08:14] Angela Nicole: Especially, and like I said, definitely for the, for the younger ones as well. 

[00:08:18] Amanda: Hmm. That’s interesting.

[00:08:23] I’ve I’m in a Facebook group. I think I was chatting with Bec about one-on-one stuff for younger kids too. And she was mentioning that. Um, particularly online that it’s just too hard to try and do one-on-one mentoring with kids kind of nine or 10 over zoom. Have you found this? 

[00:08:44] It’s yes, 

[00:08:45] Angela Nicole: I don’t do it.

[00:08:49] I’ve tried. And no, when COVID first hit, I was right in the middle of a four week workshop or six weeks maybe. I can’t remember what it was and it hit right in the middle. And so I had to pivot and quickly take it online and it was the nine to 12 age group. Um, and. It was very challenging. They was there with a lot of show and tell, um, it was a lot of, you know, we’d be sitting there trying to learn something and one would disappear and come back with a rabbit, you know, a live rabbit and someone else went, oh, and then they’d run off and grab one of their pets and then someone’s going, ‘what’s on your bedroom wall?’ and I was going, ” oh my goodness.” There was a lot of crowd control happening. And just cause they sort of knew each other. And then they were like, ‘oh my God, is that where your bedroom looks like? Cool.’ So I don’t know how much they learned in the last part, but it was very different and younger siblings coming in and all sorts of stuff.

[00:09:51] I did find it very challenging and I did try to do some one-on-one and in the end I just said, no. Uh, it’s only the teens that we can do online and the younger ones definitely need to be in person. Yeah. 

[00:10:05] Amanda: Yeah. Right. 

[00:10:06] Angela Nicole: I think you need to be some kind of superhero to be able to do that. 

[00:10:12] Amanda: Yes. Yeah. It’s um, yeah, it’s been really beautiful to see the way that you hold space for the older members in the online academy, online with the weekly check-ins and things over the last year.

[00:10:27] I so appreciate you doing that. 

[00:10:30] Angela Nicole: I love doing that actually. And it was hard, um, pivoting to online. And when I did my life coaching course, I just had these big grand thing that everything would be online and, you know, I wouldn’t have to have a space and all this sort of stuff. And when I started off that way, people started saying, ‘do you do in-person? We’d prefer in person.’

[00:10:49] So it kind of just naturally went that way. And I remember at the start really resisting it, thinking, no, this wasn’t my plan. My plan was, um, but again, you just gotta go with the flow and not be so sort of restrictive. And so now I I’m so used to one on one when it had to pivot to online, I was really, again, pushing back.

[00:11:11] ‘No, I don’t want to go online.’ Um, yeah. And I think it’s just been being aware of that as well. Yeah. 

[00:11:22] Amanda: Yeah. I love that. It’s so interesting hearing everyone’s different perspectives, and what they’ve found works. I can think of some youth mentors that love doing the one-on-one with teens on zoom. And that’s their thing.

[00:11:35] And like, it is very online. And then hearing your experience and Bec’s and Laura’s, um, yeah, to hear that the focus has been in person is beautiful. And I think that’s sometimes where we can get, um, tripped up a little bit too. I think when it comes to marketing and things like that, you know, we can think we need these really big grand followings online and, and, um, yeah, and that, that’s kind of where it’s at, but particularly if you’re getting, if you’re working with, with your community in person, you really just need to talk to the people around you, hey, and that’s kind of, that’s all you need. 

[00:12:11] Angela Nicole: Yeah. And I love like when, when they come in, you know, that we take our shoes off, so, you know, straight away sort of grounding themselves and, and I’ll use different cards and feeling cards and, you know, we might draw or we might do things. And so I guess when you’re doing that in person, it’s very different to then switch online when you, don’t sort of, it’s just a new way.

[00:12:33] If, if you’ve got a great recipe that works online. Um, that’s fantastic. Yeah. But it’s just learning to pivot and get even more creative.

[00:12:46] Amanda: And do you still work with the adults as well, or just the young people now? 

[00:12:50] Angela Nicole: Yeah. No I do. I, um, I really do love working with moms as well. Especially, I feel like, being a mom, my daughter’s 18, nearly 19, Um, and my son’s 21, and I know for myself that they never wanted to listen to a word that I said, I was just white noise in the background.

[00:13:11] ‘Mum, what do you know?’ And I get so many moms ringing me, you know, lost going, ‘they won’t listen to me.’ And I was like, that’s okay. My kids didn’t listen to me either. Um, but I love teaching women and moms that it’s not necessarily about the kids needing to listen to you. It’s about putting them, you know, in front of good people, which is what the mentors are for.

[00:13:33] Um, and why they’re so important. But the other thing is just to live as an example, I think that’s the best thing you can be for your child is just to, you know, show them a good example. And, and I’m now seeing that with my kids coming out, like I had a conversation with my daughter the other day, who would shut me down and everything I tried to say, if it even smelled like advice, she would walk out the room. Um, but the other day she, she came home and we were chatting and then she just started talking like I would talk, you know, and she was just so wise and just so full of wisdom. And I was like, oh my God, you’ve been watching the whole time, even though you wouldn’t allow me to give you any thing.

[00:14:17] Um, so I just, that’s why I love working with women and moms to say, you know, it’s not all lost. If you just keep showing up as the best version of yourself, your daughter’s always watching all the time. So that’s, that’s a really powerful message that I, I love getting out there. 

[00:14:35] Amanda: How cool to work with both too. Do you ever work with both at the same time? 

[00:14:43] Angela Nicole: I have.

[00:14:44] Yes. Yeah, yeah. I have. And that was really good too. Cause you can see the dynamics and I understand what that’s like as well, having a teenage daughter. Yeah, it can be very challenging. 

[00:15:00] Amanda: You’re taking all that lived experience and supporting other moms. It’s amazing. 

[00:15:05] Angela Nicole: Yes. Yeah. And all, I remember going through it myself and just wanted to know that someone understood you and that you weren’t alone.

[00:15:13] That’s what I like to provide.

[00:15:15] Amanda: What about Aruna? Going kind of the other end of the scale as someone who’s just graduated really recently from the Youth Mentor Training, how has that, how have, yeah, how are you? And, how are you going with getting your business up and running? 

[00:15:30] Aruna Pant: Great. Thank you, Amanda, for, uh, you know, giving us opportunity as it’s a great moment.

[00:15:37] And I would say, you know, having an opportunity to join the Youth Mentor Training was a life-changing moment for me. So I’ve always wanted to be, you know, working with young people because they have great future and, you know, they, they are confused. I see many of them confused and, you know, being able to bring changes into their life – that was something that I always wanted to do because we never had a mentor. And, um, this is my second year and having an opportunity to, uh, be online learning from, you know, from you, from the team, the great people were giving various ideas. It really helped me grow. It’s helped me grow myself as well, because I was not an internet..I was just good at working on computer, but never knew how to develop a website to marketing, go on Instagram. I’d never even had an Instagram, uh, ID, but, uh, you know, after taking this online course, um, I was able to get my website up. Uh, as a, it was a challenge or a competition for me, and I’ve been on Instagram as well.

[00:16:48] And the best thing is that I’m also on Tik Tok where the young people are mostly, and I’m doing advertisement on that. Apart from that, I was able to speak on Clubhouse on the global golden heart mentorship program. So, you know, it really changed me into someone who really wants to connect with the young people out there.

[00:17:09] Um, yeah, business has been slow. It’s not really as much as I’ve expected, but I think this is the moment I can expand myself, learn more and, you know, start working and connecting with people because networking is something that, that this program also gave me. Um, so I’m just, you know, reaching out to people, convincing them, doing the marketing part, you know, everything and everything.

[00:17:36] So, uh, it’s been a life-changing moment for me and I keep on saying, after joining the online, you know, the youth mentor training program, everyday has been a day that starts with a smile. I just keep on thinking about, okay, this is what I’m going to do. This is what I’m going to start. This is the kind of training I’m going to prepare.

[00:17:55] And yeah, my day starts with a smile from that. So, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s an amazing experience and I can never stop thanking shine from within team. And Amanda for accepting me as, as one of the students.

[00:18:13] Amanda: I might cry now. I think I might cry this whole time. Um, oh, that’s so cool to hear. There’s so many things I want to ask you about too. Firstly, uh, I guess, um, Aruna you’re in Nepal and your background before this, would you mind telling us a little bit about that? 

[00:18:32] Aruna Pant: Yes. Um, so I think working in the UN system for the past one decade, um, I started from 2008.

[00:18:42] And I’ve been working with young people, a lot of young people, you know, young people from various backgrounds and the last one was working at the regional level, working for, you know, young people in different countries, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, India, Nepal – a lot of young people. And, uh, and I’ve also, you know, worked with young people that have been affected by conflict.

[00:19:05] And everyone I meet, I find them just the same, you know, we be keep with questioning ourselves before we meet the young people about how are they going to be like? What do they think of, you know, how, how active are they and these kinds of questions. But everyone I met had the same, you know, have the same perception, the aspirations, the dreams, which drove me a lot to think beyond the organization and look into opportunity to work with the young people that I can connect at the community level as well, because that was the thing that I found missing.

[00:19:38] We were working for various young people, but then we were missing young people in the community, in our own vicinity. Um, so I, I felt, you know, that was something that I really wanted to do. And the most inspiring thing was I wanted to do something for the school that I graduated from. My, I did my high school from it’s, it’s quite in the neighborhood.

[00:19:57] It’s a community it’s a government run school. And you know, there’s no life skills education, or things that, that are taught beyond the academic area. And I really wanted to go back and give back to the school from where I graduated. I, I, I got the opportunity. So yeah, I wanted to expand myself beyond the organizational targets and goals and, and wanted to do something on my own.

[00:20:22] And this is where I stand now really doing something on my own and saying, yes, this is what I’ve done. Um, this is how I’m changing people’s lives. 

[00:20:31] Amanda: So cool. I saw your photos on Instagram of the workshop that you did in the school. It looked fantastic. 

[00:20:39] Aruna Pant: Yeah. It was really wonderful – 80 young girls, uh, you know, yeah, they, they were 80 and, uh, from my past school, I was so happy, you know, before I went there, I was nervous, excited, everything makes, but then I jumped into, uh, into the classroom and then, you know, started talking to them as an alumni and, you know, things started changing and I saw, each kid, each girls, they were really happy and they were, you know, they wanted to have the session more and more. Unfortunately, we are again on a lockdown, the schools are closed, but I have offered them to, you know, provide online, uh, mentoring services. They can reach out to me anytime because that’s the service that I really wanted to do to my school.

[00:21:24] And, uh, you know, when I walked out from the classroom, the girls were very happy. They, you know, I was surrounded by the girls. They were asking really nice questions, uh, which made me feel that, yeah, I I’m, I’m, I’m reaching towards my goal of my life and, you know, I really want to continue doing this.

[00:21:42] That was something that really came into my mind. 

[00:21:47] Amanda: And Aruna is, is now a support mentor in the youth mentor training too. So, um, Leah, who, I don’t think I introduced you at the start. I’m so sorry. We’ve got Leah as well from Sharing Our Unique Lives and Wholelistic Nomads and Shine From Within, Leah’s, um, been supporting the youth mentors for years now.

[00:22:08] And she’s always with me on the morning calls, but on the evening, calls Aruna has been there during the last round and, um, and Fola sometimes as well from Brighter Girls in Nigeria. So we get to tap into your wisdom more and more. And that, that, yeah, those years of experience that you’ve had in that community setting, Aruna, I’m so thrilled to have you kind of on the team as well.

[00:22:30] Aruna Pant: Yeah. Thank you very much for this opportunity. I can’t stop thanking, and , you know, helping me reach out to the young people because I’ve, I’ve always been saying we have 1.2 billion young people now.

[00:22:43] Yeah, 1.2 billion. And even if we are to reach 10,000, a single person reaching out to 10,000 young people, we still need 120,000 youth mentors at the same time running around doing, you know, these youth mentoring work. I think we still need to expand. We need more people getting into our team and, you know, expanding and saying that we are a family helping young people to reach out and become leaders – productive leaders, positive leaders, even that, that makes me excited every time thinking about I’m a part of the community.

[00:23:20] Amanda: You’re so infectious Aruna, that enthusiasm and passion that you have. It’s it’s amazing.

[00:23:26] And what about you Jess? I don’t know that you’ve got a bell tent, necessarily but, I feel like you do a lot out in nature and connecting young people to nature. 

[00:23:40] Jess van Groningen: Yeah, definitely. Um, that’s my passion. And moving further into that now. Um, or particularly this year, um, yeah, my business started probably just a year ago and it was, yeah, just taking a chance and taking a risk and putting myself out there. Um, I did a pilot project in a local primary school, um, and that went really well and just snowballed after that. Um, and yeah, it was just so, so lovely to be able, my background in early childhood education, so, um, coming into work with, um, some older children was different for me.

[00:24:26] Um, and I knew the best way to do that was to actually sit with them and be with them and hear what it is that they need and want. Um, and yeah, just having that ability to be flexible and work with the girls and the school and sort of fit things in, um, that, that was useful for them and within their school context as well.

[00:24:52] So, um, yeah, but COVID did put a bit of a spanner in the works with the in-person stuff and we did try zoom and Angela, I totally get what you’re saying about bringing the fluffy rabbit in or the Guinea pig or the dog. It was very much like that. Um, but it was still just an opportunity to connect. Um, but yeah, right at the end of last year, we did manage to get together again, in-person as a group to sort of round out the year and look towards this year and yeah, it’s just magical sitting in circle with them. Um, yeah, so grateful for that and yeah, definitely weaving more of the nature based work and particularly animal based sort of learning and psycho-education this year will be my focus.

[00:25:49] So I’m really excited about that. Yeah, teaching different a bit like, um, others were saying like emotional regulation and, um, different life skills that can, can help them setting boundaries and learning how to communicate and get along with others, but using the animals to do that.

[00:26:12] So it can be confronting, um, yeah, and pretty special. 

[00:26:18] Amanda: It sounds amazing. Will you, will you bring them onto your property to meet some of your animals, is that how you think you’ll do that? 

[00:26:29] Jess van Groningen: Yeah, I have the flexibility, my, dogs that I have have worked within schools before I can, and the girl I was mentoring last year, we did sort of walk and talk sessions too. And at times I’d have the dog with us. So I do have the flexibility to take them off, but it’s a bit harder with the horses or the deer or the goats or something. So yeah, they’ll, they’ll be coming onto the property for that. 

[00:26:56] Amanda: Oh, how fun to come and hang out with your deers and your goats and your horses.

[00:27:03] Jess van Groningen: Yeah, well, that’s the plan, but you just, you don’t know. I think, yeah. So there’s, I’m dreaming up these things and having an idea, but being responsive to what the community needs is really important and just being able to be open, um, and humble enough to listen to what that is. You might put something out there and they’re like, ‘uh-uh, we don’t need that.’

[00:27:26] Um, but yeah. And speaking to that, I guess within my local community, actually I did reach out to, um, like the local youth services, um, and a couple of dance groups and things like that just to pick their brain about what was happening in the community. And, um, yeah, there seemed to be a real gap, early intervention finished about eight years old and youth services kick in about 12.

[00:27:58] And so there’s this sort of gap where, um, yeah, there can be some other services that can be provided for that age group. Um, yeah. And working collaboratively, I think for me, it’s been really beneficial, um, collaborating with my local art gallery to do a workshop or the library got me in there to do a different workshop, um, and Head Space actually we’re working on, uh, it was going to be an in-person event, but again, there’s restrictions around that.

[00:28:31] So, um, We’re looking at doing more of a resource kit that we can put out there for, for older girls actually. But yeah, it’s nice to collaborate and then your not alone doing it.

[00:28:46] Amanda: Yeah. I love that. Yeah. It’s um, it doesn’t matter how many, um, like I know you’ve been coming to the weekly, co-working on a Tuesday and we have our monthly catch ups and things like that with The Coterie (our youth mentor mastermind), but you’re still, you’re still the only one running the, running the business at home on your own a lot of the time, Hey, unless you’re with students, you’re kind of just juggling different hats and, and doing your own thing, which, um, as Laura mentioned, can be a lot to kind of adjust to hey, initially.

[00:29:21] Jess van Groningen: Yeah. And I love the coworking and the ability to still connect with, with community and, um, yeah, hook into that when you need it. So. It’s super supportive and I’m very grateful for that. 

[00:29:37] Amanda: Thanks for being part of it. That’s how I knew you’ve been wanting to, I really want to come and meet your goat and deer and learn from them.

[00:29:56] How great are they? Thank you so much for being here and listening in and getting to, I hope you enjoyed getting to meet Angela and Aruna and Jess. They’re pretty special, right? Yeah. I love hearing the different ways that they’re working and what works for them and the ways that they are showing up for young people. 

[00:30:16] They’re amazing. So amazing. I’ll make sure I pop links to go and find them. Um, in the description of this podcast, episode two, so that you can connect with them yourself and, and build those relationships too. If you’re interested in doing that. Um, yeah. Okay. I’ll leave it there. Thanks. Thanks so much for being here. We’ll um, we’ve got some more wonderful interviews coming up on the youth mentor podcast. If you love this podcast, please take a moment to. 

[00:30:44] Um, you know, do the thing, right? It’s leave a comment whenever you like. Um, it’ll, it’ll help us to get this podcast out there in front of more people that, that might really love to, to hear it. And, um, Yeah. Thanks for being part of this. Youth mentor community talk to you soon

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