18 SES 04, Mentoring Practice in Sport and Physical Education
The concept of youth mentoring has become increasingly fashionable in recent years, particularly within the field of education (Colley, 2003; Du Bois & Karcher, 2005). Moreover, tackling the perceived growing problem of youth disaffection and social exclusion has become a key target for many mentoring initiatives within the UK, Europe and beyond (Shiner et al., 2004; Sandford et al., 2010). This paper highlights findings from a corporate-sponsored programme within the UK, which used residential, outdoor physical activity experiences a vehicle for enhancing the personal and social development of disaffected and disengaged young people aged 13/14 years. Qualitative data from over 30 individuals involved in the project, generated via interviews, focus groups, reflective journals and open-ended surveys, are drawn upon to examine the role and impact of adult mentors within such programmes. The findings suggest that there is potential for mentors to have a positive influence on disaffected youth, but that the nature of impact is often highly individualised. In particular, they point to the need for adult mentors in such initiatives to: be carefully selected; be committed a long-term process; have a clear sense of their role; and be equipped with the necessary skills to foster learning and development.
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