Grade 12 student Skylar Moore has launched a mentorship program for girls entering Grade 8 this fall.
The five-week program, called Navigating Grade 8, “gives the girls a basic toolkit with ways to destress, communicate effectively with friends and family about what is most important to them, and implement self-care,” according to a brochure.
Moore, 17, got the idea for the program while working with Grade 8 and 9 students as a peer tutor at Chatelech Secondary School.
“Going into high school, I see a lot of different kids struggling in different areas,” Moore said. As a tutor she dealt with students’ academics, but some sought advice on other matters. “I thought, well, we might as well...figure out the questions now instead of halfway through the year.”
Moore has volunteered at the Sechelt and Halfmoon Bay youth centres, has participated in YMCA Youth Leadership Development programs and was a mentor for violence prevention. She is also president of Chatelech’s Interact Club.
She worked with her mother, a life coach, to develop the program before proposing the idea to the Sechelt Community School, which took it on. It started Aug. 27 and continues until Sept. 24 at the Sechelt Youth Centre.
The biggest challenges Moore identified while working with students as a peer tutor was communicating their needs to teachers, parents and peers, dealing with social media, and the basics of high school, such as what to bring to class, and teacher expectations.
Social media offers a new set of challenges, said Moore, who has been approached by students about sexting, deciding what’s appropriate to post online, and dealing with negative comments.
But the most fundamental challenge, Moore said, is communication.
“Teachers are totally understanding if you say the right thing, and in Grade 8 you don’t know what that thing is,” she said.
Moore said the program is needed. Even though student councillors and principals do provide support at high school, “it’s very different talking to another teenager who has been through it very recently,” since they can relate and empathize. “We figured our way out of that and we can help show you the way out of that instead of just keeping on the same path. It’s a lot different than talking to an adult who says, ‘Oh, just don’t do it.’ It’s not that easy.”