Side-by-Side aims to simultaneously address two very important needs in the human and civil development of the Republic of Armenia. At-risk youth do not receive the supervision, guidance and positive interaction needed to develop into productive, well-adjusted adults. In addition, throughout all social, economic levels of civic life in Armenia, a culture of volunteerism is not developed, encouraged and understood for its aggregate benefit for society. This holds true for both young people and adults.
Side-by-Side is a mentorship program adopted from Big Brothers Big Sisters model that aims to enhance youth’s psychological, social, and academic growth, while at the same time, keeping them away from risky activities. Side-by-Side will match carefully selected young, local professionals with at-risk youth for one year. Mentors and mentees will spend one-on-one time twice a month and participate in monthly group activites which will promote volunteerism through community service.
The goal of Side-by-Side is to advocote volunteerism in mentors and mentees through their one-on-one relationship and community service activities.
The one-on-one relationship with their mentor will help youth mature to be more self-sufficient, self-confident, and successful. Similar mentorship programs have a proven record of minimizing tendencies toward drug and alcohol use and aggression in young people. Additional benefits are seen in school attendance, academic performance, and overall attitude toward school. Peer and family relationships also benefit from mentoring (Tierney and Grossman, 2000).
For a mentor, the individual relationship will increase the mentor’s self-worth and confidence.
Monthly group community service activities will serve a vital role in helping children learn and understand community service and volunteerism, encouraging them to become life-long volunteers and contributing members of society. Both mentors and mentees will utilize their sense of volunteerism long after they leave the program and will most certainly pass on this culture. This project will instill within the youth and the mentors positive associations with community service and volunteerism.
Side-by-Side aims to serve a large group of at-risk youth and mentors. The pilot phase of the project will last six months. During this period, ten at-risk youth will be partnered with trained mentors. Half of the mentees will be children affiliated with a center (such as the Ghoghanj Children’s Center) and the other half will not be affiliated with any center and will be recruited from various communities of Yerevan. Mentors and mentees will meet no less than ten times one-on-one. Five group community service activities will take place in public locations that will both illustrate the value of volunteerism for the target group and the community at large. Public media activities and mid term and final program evaluations will also occur.
Short Term Impact
Long Term Impact
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Side-By-Side successfully completed its mentoring for 13 students.