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Providing support in a Boston Village Mentoring Program

BOSTON - Search Institute’s Developmental Relationship Framework is instrumental in our mentoring models. It is introduced to mentors during their orientation to whichever DREAM program they are participating in and is our most common reference point when offering mentors (and ourselves) support within their mentoring relationship. We are exploring the framework by telling stories from each of our programs and locations.

The Developmental Relationships Framework identifies Providing Support as a key element of its framework for building strong relationships that help kids thrive. The framework consists of five elements: Express Care, Challenge Growth, Provide Support, Share Power, and Expand Possibilities. Each element offers actionable, relationship-building steps that contribute to meaningful, positive interactions between kids and the adults that support them. This time we will inspect Providing Support through the lens of a mentoring pair in Boston. The mentor, Mohamad, and the mentee, Zee, participate in the Village Mentoring program.

Mohamad provided support to Zee during a challenging moment at a DREAM activity. According to Search Institute, a Zee would understand that Mohamad was providing him with support when:

  • They are helped with completing tasks or achieving goals.

  • They are guided through hard citations or systems.

  • They are offered words of confidence that they are able to take charge of their life.

  • They feel they have someone in their life who will stand up for them when they need it.

  • They are offered boundaries or limits to assist in keeping them on track toward their own aspirations.

Our story begins at a flag football game organized by our DREAM chapter at Boston University. Zee was excited to play and Mohamad was ready to cheer for and support his mentee. The game began and mentors and mentees played side-by-side. The action was back and forth - it was fast and fun. As most playground games go, the intensity of the competition grew as the game continued, which ramped up the pressure each mentee felt to play well. During one particular play, Zee made a mistake and it led to the other team scoring a touchdown. It was clear that Zee felt down and was a bit embarrassed by his error, and he expressed he wanted to sit out the rest of the game.

This was the point where Mohamad intervened to provide support to his mentee. Mohamad pointed out to Zee that it was just a game and while his mistake felt heavy and big at the moment, it was not something on which he should dwell. Mohamad did his best to make it a teachable moment. He shared with Zee the importance of resilience and teamwork, letting him know that failing at something is normal. He expressed that everyone fails and viewing failure as a stepping stone to growth and success is really important. Mohamad’s encouraging support moved Zee to rejoin the game and the fun, turning a tough moment into an exciting and impactful memory.

By the end of the game, Zee had made a pivotal play to help his team win. He also comprehended the value of persistence and the significance of the support he received from Mohamad. It was a transformational experience for both Zee and Mohamad that illustrates the power of providing support, and its impact goes far beyond the football game.


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