Heywood backs community mentor scheme for students

STUDENTS in Heywood will have greater access to individual mentoring at their school and in the wider community, thanks to a groundswell of support for a local program. 

The Heywood Standing Tall Program (HSTP) is barely a year old, but is looking to expand its school-based initiative.

Twenty-nine community mentors have been trained by HSTP and work alongside students at their school in a resilience-based early intervention program.

That number is set to rise by five as the HSTP hopes to add to its ability to foster lengthy one-on-one relationships between mentors and students.

Program co-ordinator Mandy Karatau-Keightley said the links fostered between students and adults were important.

“The program has brought parents and community members into their school to support and mentor their student,” Ms Karatau-Keightley said.

“Teachers have stated that having other adults walking through the school has created new and positive energy.”

The transition from primary to secondary education has also been smoothed by a strengthened relationship between Heywood District Secondary College and Heywood Consolidated School.

Students are also able to build links to Heywood District Health, Portland Young Professionals, Country Fire Authority, Southern Grampians Local Learning Employment Network and Winda Mara Aboriginal Corporation.

“We have such a vast mix of community members from Branxholme to Portland. Our program has been blessed with many networks, professions and life experiences,” Ms Karatau-Keightley said.

“This availability of networks has provided broader education and training opportunities for our mentees.

“Two students have recently gained work placements within the wider community.

“Students are gaining life skills and qualifications towards various career opportunities, with the support and guidance of their mentor and within the boundaries of the school rules and regulations.”

HSTP is part of the state government’s Heywood, Lake Condah and surrounding towns advancing country towns project (2011-2015).

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