What made you become a mentor?
I became a mentor because of my experiences of growing up with a degenerative eye condition. The challenges I have faced have helped grow my confidence, however I know other young people may not respond in this positive manner. So I feel it is necessary to share my experiences and help facilitate a young person’s journey through sight loss to aid their goals and achievements in life; and to be a role model to show them that sight loss is not the end of the world.
Why do we need to have mentors for VI children and young people?
We need mentors to show VI children and young people that sight loss is not a barrier, and, in some cases, can be an advantageous. Mentors can inspire young people to follow their dreams and be who they want to be; ultimately, hope can be created from interaction with other VI people.
What have been the highlights for you?
A highlight for me as a Look Mentor is having a young person begin an Independent Living Skills (ILS) weekend reluctant to use their cane, and by the end of it they were willing to use the cane more. And to hear a few months later that they were using it most of the time. This was fantastic and heart-warming to know that I had helped someone change their attitude to an important aid: one that brings independence to their lives.
What do you say to anyone thinking of becoming a mentor?
Becoming a mentor is an important role, so you need to be prepared that your mentee might have quite rigid views on their sight loss. But, the wonderful thing is that we are chosen for our ability to have empathy, and we get training that reminds us not to get frustrated and to go at our mentees pace. Becoming a mentor will allow you to meet some inspirational people, and you will grow and develop alongside your mentees.
Being part of Look is an honour, so joining this group of committed individuals is a great opportunity. Look gives training to help you develop your mentoring skills and there are lovely session for mentors to meet one another, chat about the VI life and be in an environment where no one cares if you walk into something – because you wouldn’t have been the first to do it that day.
How has Look helped you?
Look has helped me to further my perspective of how sight loss affects each individual. It has inspired me to strive for greater things in my life. They have given me the opportunities to become a mentor; something I’d been wanting to do since breaking through the challenges that I have faced. Being a mentor has enabled me to meet some fantastic people. It has also provided a platform for me to grow as an individual: personally, socially, and professionally.
Even if you aren’t looking to be a mentor yet, or to receive mentoring, Look are a wonderful charity and it is a delight to be associated with them. Help them grow.