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Mentor helping Jill, 10, deal with a complex time in her life

Jill* is only 10, but she’s already been through a lot in her short life.

Her parents are in custody, and she lives in regional NSW with her Nana, Pop and little sister.

The siblings experienced a lot of instability at home before moving in with their grandparents, and it’s caused Jill to have difficulty trusting adults and expressing her emotions appropriately.

This was especially the case at school, where behavioural issues were beginning to impact her education.

A curious, clever, and friendly child, her worsening situation at school concerned her teachers, and the principal reached out to SHINE for Kids to arrange for her to join our Rise mentoring program.

Big asks of a little kid

It was clear to Jill’s mentor when they started sessions that, for a child her age, Jill had had lots of serious conversations about adult issues.

Her family is working to ensure the sisters can remain in the care of her grandparents, which involves her needing to retell her story to adults from various government support services.

While a necessary process, it’s also exhausting for a child to feel safe enough to open up to others about her life and things that may have happened.

So, as a first step, her mentor made sure that Jill felt in control during their sessions together. 

“Our focus is on supporting Jill’s well-being and creating a space where she feels safe to open up emotionally when she wants to,” said her mentor. “I allow Jill to decide what she wants to do or talk about.”

“Often, she feels she has little control of her surroundings, so giving her the space to take control is helping her feel empowered.”

“She really loves being able to choose activities, and especially loves when we can go outdoors and run around or practice gymnastics!”

Big Feelings

As Jill has come to trust her mentor, and her mentor has become a consistent and reliable person in her previously insecure life, they’ve been able to do activities together to address the behavioural issues in the classroom.

These have included identifying and understanding emotions, learning better ways to express them, and developing confidence and self-esteem.

“During our time together, Jill has become more comfortable talking about how she feels and is learning to regulate tricky emotions,” said her mentor.

She’s come so far already, and Jill’s school and grandparents can see the improvements in her behaviour at school.

Her mentor says, “I’ll keep working with Jill, her family, school and case workers so that together, we can get the best outcomes for her.”

*Names and images are changed to protect participant identities.

The Department of Social Services supports this program. 

Mentor helping Jill, 10, deal with a complex time in her life

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