We work with schools who recommend young people aged 13 to 15 to join our programme. They choose to attend a once weekly, 18-week work experience in a school nursery where they befriend and develop a special mentoring relationship with a 3- to 5-year-old child. The nursery staff select small children whose language, social and emotional development could benefit from this regular one-to-one mentoring. The young people become assistants to the nursery staff and are part of a team, having an opportunity to engage positively with their community.
The programme includes ‘group time‘ with trained facilitators who support the young people to build their emotional intelligence, learning skills of self-reflection and self-management as well as social skills applied to their relationship in their community. The purpose of group time is to inspire, engage and motivate the young people to realise their immense potential and be the change they want to see in the world. The energy of engagement and curiosity are the driving force behind an experience of empowerment, building self-belief and self-efficacy. It is also illuminating for young people to explore their potential with a peer group and discover as yet unknown treasures of similarity and the joy of difference and diversity. This dynamic work experience is grounded in a peer discussion forum that enables the young people to achieve a nationally recognised qualification, which is completed in the last four weeks of portfolio work on the programme.
The programme aims to:
- provide early intervention to small children to address their developmental needs and to form healthy attachments
- empower young people to believe in themselves and their abilities and to make healthy choices in their lives
- provide volunteer work experience, fulfilling a responsible role and being part of a team, gaining work experience and fostering trust in community
- support the development of life skills, emotional literacy (self-reflection, self-management, awareness of others and social capital)
- motivate them to stay in school and fulfil their educational, employment and personal potential
- enable them to discover their inherent character strengths and learn to apply these in their own lives, especially at school and in their community
- offer an opportunity to gain a nationally recognised qualification which can motivate them to see a positive future for themselves
- assist in an experience of excitement about discovering the awesome potential of self in positive and healthy relationship with others
We were delighted to launch Growing2gether in three secondary schools in the Highlands in January 2017 to begin to grow Ecologia’s Scottish initiative. We are now in the third year and Growing2gether runs in 13 schools, reaching as far north as Thurso. This is the start of many more programmes in the Highlands and throughout Scotland.