A note from Sally Spencer

Home / News / A note from Sally Spencer

In these uncertain times, I wanted to reach out to you personally to share what the novel coronavirus COVID-19 means for the Youth Assisting Youth mentoring programs and what we are doing.

At YAY, the health and well-being of our youth, families, staff and volunteers are always a top priority. We are aware of the important role that our Youth Mentors play in providing essential support to our kids, families and communities.

We are encouraging anyone who feels sick to stay home in order to help prevent the spread of the virus. Please remember that we will always keep our youth, families, staff and volunteers at the centre of our planning and decision-making.

As we navigate the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation together, we want to provide you with some tips & guidelines (below) in regards to the continuity of the mentor match. This will help our mentors and families navigate the pandemic and their relationships. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please contact your Case Coordinator directly, or send us an email to [email protected].

We will continue to share information, support and training to our staff, youth mentors, mentees and families on how to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy.

For over 40 years, our company’s purpose is connect volunteers in mentorship experiences that profoundly impact the most vulnerable youth and their families in communities across the Greater Toronto and York Region. The outcome of that is to develop mind, body, character, and leadership skills.

That seems particularly important today. We know you are continuing to rely on us to provide a life line for families and amplify child and youth resilience.

At YAY, we believe it is in challenging times like these that the power of mentorship and community is needed most of all. We are taking this health concern seriously and will navigate the challenges to support you.

Sally Spencer
CEO, Youth Assisting Youth

P.S. Out of an abundance of caution, we will soon be updating you on the status of our upcoming annual Spin-a-thon. 

Be Mindful.

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads, it may trigger trauma for young people impacted by the virus or by the news surrounding the pandemic. Let your mentee know that you see them and are there for them.

Be Intentional about the relationship.

  • Acknowledge what is going on and engage in a dialogue about the pandemic.
  • Understand and honor your emotions and the emotions of your mentee, including the range of reactions that may be expressed.
  • Commit to self-care. Know that it is okay to take a break from the news and discussions about the virus as needed to manage anxiety or other responses to the situation.

Be in it together.

Let your mentee know that you are in this together and are here to help.

  • Follow the latest on COVID-19 on the CDC’s website
  • Follow the guidelines of your mentoring program, institution, or the guardians of your mentee around how to connect and communicate virtually with your mentee if in-person connections are suspended. Decide on clear boundaries and agreements about how you will connect with your mentee when meeting in-person and continue to follow the latest health guidelines and recommendations about where and how to gather.

Be Communicative. Healthy and supportive relationships are crucial during this time.

If you feel comfortable, continue to show up for them in person – young people need our support now more than ever!

​If in-person meetings must pause, follow the appropriate path:

  • If you are able to communicate virtually with your mentee:
  • Let your mentee know you need to temporarily pause seeing them in person but are still there for them virtually. Create a plan with your mentee about how you will stay in touch while continuing to follow the appropriate guidelines.​
  • If you are not able to communicate virtually:
  • Work with the program to figure out a way to pass along information to let your mentee know that you care, value the relationship, and will need to temporarily pause in-person meetings. Health and safety are the primary focuses at this time.