(L-R) The mentors that are graduating from the program are Julianna Harvey, Emily Hagemann, Tasha Kjenner, Kennedy Hackett, Rachel Barrett, Kelli-Rae Seiben, Sarah Thomas, Sara Zimmerman. Missing: Gracynn Bonnett. Image: BBBS Ponoka

Ponoka BBBS teen mentor program sees more graduates

Program helps mentors learn and benefit from their experience while assisting younger students

There will be nine teen mentors graduating from a program designed to help younger students.

The teen mentoring program at Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) Ponoka has been in operation for several years now and uses Ponoka Secondary Campus — Grade 10 to 12 — volunteers to work with younger students at Ponoka Elementary School. The program is continuing to build on the numerous rewards that have been achieved in the past.

Of the nine graduates, there are five that have been mentoring for two years — Kennedy Hackett, Emily Hagemann, Julianna Harvey, Tasha Kjenner, Sarah Thomas — while Rachel Barrett, Gracynn Bonnett, Kelli-Rae Seiben and Sara Zimmerman just finished their first year.

A few of the graduates shared what their experiences in the program were along with why they decided to become a mentor.

For Harvey, the program taught an invaluable lesson about her personality and something that will help her down the road.

“I learned how to be patient and to just go with the flow,” she stated.

Meanwhile, Hackett pointed out that mentoring helped her grow as an individual.

“You can put aside all the stressors of the day and just focus on someone else,” she said.

As for Thomas, mentoring the younger students taught her the value of having to answer for your actions.

“I learned how to be accountable to someone and how you can build such a deep relationship with your mentee,” she noted.

For others, having the opportunity to give back, plus the chance to learn about themselves, was the motivation for getting involved in the program.

“I thought it would be a good opportunity to help someone out,” stated Seiben.

While Hagemann explained, “I want to work with kids and thought it would give me experience.”

Lastly, Kjenner will be left with a lasting legacy and some beautiful memories from her two years as a mentor.

She will always remember when her little brother asked if she could be his mentor until he was in Grade 6, and then had to explain she couldn’t because she was graduating, “He looked up at me and just said, ‘I’m going to miss you.’”

And while the youths can’t be part of this program, they can all stay in touch with the student through the BBBS pen pal program, explained program director Morgen Chernick.

For high school students interested in being a mentor starting in the fall, they are encouraged to call Chernick at (403) 783-3112.

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