During October, organizations all around the country celebrated the annual Disability Mentoring Day event. NCWD/Youth is fortunate to be able to engage in mentoring programming all year round through the Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program (RAMP) run by our host organization, the Institute for Educational Leadership. RAMP is based on several of NCWD/Youth’s foundational materials including the Guideposts for Success and Paving the Way to Work: A Guide to Career Focused Mentoring for Youth with Disabilities. The following is a story about the mentor-mentee experience with Damon (Mentor) and Shamond (Mentee) from RAMP Houston.
How and why did you get involved with RAMP?
Damon: I found RAMP on a community website http://volunteerhouston.org/. I have previously volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters and I wanted a new community service endeavor. I also wanted to work with an older youth population.
Shamond: I got involved in RAMP to learn about finding a job. I needed help with interview skills, job searching and how to dress.
What are your career goals or career interests?
Shamond: I am a student athlete. I love sports and fitness. I would like to be an athletic coach. My father is a welder and I’m thinking about that too.
What were you expecting from RAMP before becoming a mentee/mentor? Has RAMP met or exceeded your expectations?
Damon: I did not expect that I would be able to as involved as I have become. I get to help with the learning activities, field trips and academics. My mentee welcomes me to his sporting events and the school faculty is very inviting. My expectation was exceeded. I have a large role in Shamond’s life but I still have my distance and balance as needed.
Shamond: I expected that RAMP would answer all my questions about school and working. I like RAMP and the time we spend together.
What do you like most about the relationship?
Shamond: I like that we have fun and games! Even with being cool we still have to learn.
Damon: I like that you are receptive to my ideas and advice. I like that I can easily get in touch with you and that you invite me to your football games. You are very affectionate and we never have fights or major misunderstandings.
What is one of our most memorable moments together? Why?
Shamond: I liked when we went to Olive Garden last year. We laughed, played around, learned and ate good food. We took that happy picture that was put on Easter Seals website.
Damon: Other than Olive Garden, my most memorable moment was when I attended your first football game. You lit up when you saw me on the field. I was proud to be there for you and you were proud that I kept my promise and came.
What would say to someone to convince them to become a mentee/mentor for RAMP?
Damon: I would tell community volunteers how rewarding it is to be a mentor. You have flexibility in scheduling and the amount of effort you have to put in. I choose to go to the school every week and see Shamond outside of the school, if your schedule does not accommodate this, that’s ok too.
Shamond: I would tell a student that being in RAMP will teach life lessons. You will learn how to interview, get and keep a job.
How would you like our relationship to grow in the future?
Damon: Shamond and I have a very healthy relationship. We have a good time together and we have a mutual understanding. Going forward as he matures into a young adult, I would like to learn more about his likes, dislikes, and internal struggles that he does not verbalize.
Shamond: Stay cool with each other. Give me advice from time to time to keep me going on the right path.
What are some of the goals that have been set since being involved with RAMP to help you with your career path?
Shamond: Keep good grades and get ready for graduation. Keep my body healthy and study fitness.
What changes have you recognized in your mentee since the early stages of the relationship?
Damon: Shamond went from being a class nuissance to a respectable young man. In the beginning Shamond would be put out of every class I attended, and showed gross disrespect for others or authority. Now Shamond is a leader on his football with both character and grades. Shamond also knows compassion now and can see the misdeeds of others.
What is the most interesting thing about your mentee/mentor?
Damon: Shamond is a talented athlete. Shamond has a shoe fetish! Shamond has a caring spirit and has learned patience and the rewards it brings.
Shamond: Damon makes me smile and laugh. He teaches and shows me what I need to do, and I get it done.
- Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program: Houston
- Paving the Way to Work: A Guide to Career-Focused Mentoring
- Career Exploration in Action: An Innovative Strategies Practice Brief
- Making the Right Turn: A Guide About Improving Transition Outcomes for Youth Involved in the Juvenile Corrections System
- Guideposts for Success for Youth Involved in the Juvenile Corrections System