California Elders for Youth Mentor Program
Sponsored by the Qi Gong Mastery Church
Hannah, 15, sits alone, apart from her peers who tease her. She feels so different, being slightly hearing impaired. Isolated during the day, she whiles away her weekends and nights on the computer, envious of the enchanted lives people appear to lead on social media. Hannah wants to help people in her situation, so she dreams of someday becoming a teacher.
Caroline, 76, living in a retirement complex, is still very alert and wants to be more active. Her formerly busy and colorful life as a teacher now seems monochromatic and dull with her family and friends more distant. These family and friends encourage Caroline to accept the “inevitability” of this transition in life. Her doctor recommends medication
Both Hannah and Caroline represent countless withdrawn elderly and struggling youth in our society – and it doesn’t have to be this way. Encouraging seniors and youth to interact in a collaborative and productive mentorship will allow both populations to flourish. The practice of elders teaching the youth is no stranger to humanity. Throughout history, it has been those who have the most life experience, our elderly population, who taught and guided the youth and channeled their rebellious vigor into positive directions; and it is still this way in much of the world. However, it seems that our society’s focus on mechanization and efficiency has broken this chain of passing along life’s wisdom, and both the youth and elderly suffer the repercussions of this breach.
In the Church of Qi Gong Mastery, we strive to understand nature’s energy and use it in positive ways. We observe how the chaotic and conformative nature of our society leaves youth struggling to be listened too and respected for their uniqueness. While at the same time, seniors are being outcasted to isolated living facilities, left yearning for their opportunity to share their life experiences.
The California Elders for Youth Mentor Program’s mission is to join the energy of our youth with the wisdom of our elders in their transference of life skills, job skills and experiences. As a result of this mentorship, this will create mutually supportive relationships benefiting both the youth and the elders, as well as strengthening our communities. Through our mentorship program, youth participants will not only receive important skills and wisdom from seniors, but also mitigate those feelings of helplessness and inadequacy. Through skill transfer activities, youth will attain excellent job-skill training from the elderly who have the patience and experience to prepare the youth for successful careers. The learning will also be a two-way street, as youth participants will be able to teach the interested elderly population in applicable technologies, such as cell phones and basic computer skills, which will further empower both mentors and mentees.
We have a spacious 21,000 sq. foot space in Grover Beach, California with a group meeting area, separate rooms for one-on-one skill transfer, male and female restrooms, a kitchen, and basic office infrastructure (computers, printers). Our team consists of two skilled managers with experience in youth and community building programs, 3 counselors/coaches to guide the participants, a registered nurse with over 40 years of experience in working with elderly patients, an office secretary, a social media operator, and our visionary and advisor, Anthony Morrocco. In addition, we have a vast network of volunteers and community business connections.
In the past year, we initiated three preliminary and currently ongoing elder-youth mentorships through our partners at Morrocco Method, Tri-Counties Regional Center, Path Point, and Transition-Mental Health Association. The results from this participatory approach have been extraordinary. The youth have learned invaluable and practical lessons in conflict resolution and proper work ethic and behavior. Meanwhile the elderly participants have taken great joy and excitement in mentoring three teens from their local community. The excitement and rejuvenation of our participants is the real testament to our success thus far.
Now, we want to expand our program to include 10 more participants. Through our established connections at local Senior Living Facilities, we will recruit an additional 5 willing seniors for the program. The youth (ages 13-18) participants will be recruited through our partnership with the San Luis Obispo Department of Rehabilitation (DOR), PathPoint, and local public schools.
The time is now! In San Luis Obispo County there are about as many youths (17.8%) as there are people over 65 (19.4%). The supply and demand is here, but where are they to go? The California Elders for Youth Mentor Program is ready to start bringing youth and elders together into an active learning program. But we need funds to keep this program going and expand it to meet the need for our community.