Larf – Life Skills, Activities, Recreation, Friendship & Fun
Your donations at work (mid-year update 2015)
Mark* is a young man who joined our youth group at the commencement of Term 1 this year. He was referred to us by his worker at Pomegranate House who felt that he would benefit from the opportunity to engage with young people in a safe and supportive environment as part of his transition to back to mainstream schooling. (Previously Mark had been enrolled in the DOTS program and undertaking his studies by Distance Education.)
Whilst feeling reasonably confident with his assigned young adult mentor quite quickly, he was initially reluctant to interact with anyone else in the LARF group.
Over the course of Terms 1 and 2 in the programme, however, his confidence with other LARF participants has grown considerably. He has formed friendships with two mentees in particular and clearly enjoys catching up with them each fortnight at LARF. His mother has also spoken of how much he enjoys LARF and interacting with the other kids in the group. More recently he has also become friends with another mentee within the programme (with whom he perhaps initially did not think he shared many interests etc.). As both boys attend the same school, this friendship has also been particularly helpful in Mark’s transition back to full-time schooling. For Mark it has been comforting knowing that he already has a friend at school ‐ even though the process of returning to full-time studies can be challenging.” *not his real name
LARF participants are partnered with mentors who contribute wisdom, a different life experience, guidance, support and positive role modelling to ease them into life in the mainstream.
Children and youth who experience social isolation due to homelessness, family violence, poverty, substance abuse and/or family breakdown benefit greatly from forming relationships with a peer mentor who can get alongside them, and be a positive role model and encourager .
LARF aims to engage and support disadvantaged young people aged 7 – 15 through participation in activities and events similar to that of their peers and the opportunity to develop a genuine relationship with an older positive role model.
Trained youth volunteers aged 16 to 25 are matched with participants on a one to one basis with 12 pairs of mentor – mentees meeting on a fortnightly basis to share activities together. There are currently 2 groups, one for primary school aged children, and one for high school aged youth up to 15 years.
Twice a year the LARF participants head to the grampians for a rock climbing experience.
Alice comes from a very disrupted and difficult home life and joined the LARF group as a shy young lady who had had very few positive role models in her life. At a recent rock climbing trip Alice was able to overcome many hurdles. A leader recalls:
“On the way home I asked her… so Alice what did you learn from today? She answered with the biggest proudest smile I’ve ever had the pleasure of receiving… ‘I can pretty much do whatever it is that I decide I want to if I don’t let my head get in the way’. We have come back to this many times… the day she decided that despite being scared of the challenge in front of her, this was actually something that she could and wanted to do, and she just had to break it down until little steps became climbing whole mountains. “The funding we provide for this program is generated from Workplace Giving programs.
This organisation has received funding from United Way Ballarat for the following years:
1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2o15, 2016
Your donations at work (mid year update 2014)
21 Mentees and 21 Mentors have met weekly this semester:
In Term 1 the topic was ‘Getting to know ourselves and others in LARF’ and the getting to know you activities included: Cooking, Self reflection journals, Gymnastics at the YMCA, Self portraits using photography and charcoal sketching, and Yoga.
In Term 2 the topic was ‘Social skills and friendship’, Sessions and activities included: Social skills interactive work using self reflection journals and thought provoking group discussion questions, Ten pin bowling, a mMusic quiz band night, friendship jewellery and craft, Flybz Hip Hop and Storytelling sessions (the artists were from Burundi in East Africa), and an opportunity for both groups of young people to eat out and socialise together at the Pancake Kitchen in Ballarat.
“In Term 2 of 2014, LARF took on a referral from CAFS for Shaun* whose mother receives case management by the referring worker. Shaun is in Year 8 at school and has presented to his mother’s worker as being (socially) anxious and vulnerable to bullying at school.
Shaun has settled into LARF extremely well – feeling welcomed by those kids he was able to engage with when first coming to the group. Whilst this has included kids like himself (Shaun is a self confessed Sci-Fi nerd!) it also includes another LARF participant, who has interests quite different to his own – particularly sport (as an interest and ability).
Through his friendship with Tom* we have seen the positive role, bystanders can play in an emerging bullying issue. Shaun and Tom go to the same school and Tom is friends with boys who had started to bully Shaun. As a result of his friendship with Shaun at LARF, Tom has stepped in with his friends at school to stop them bullying Shaun.
Shaun’s mum has also reported how much he enjoys attending LARF and that he feels ‘independent and grown up’ being picked up with other LARF kids in the bus, rather than being dropped off by his mum.
Shaun’s mum’s caseworker has also reported on his mum’s increased confidence in allowing Shaun to be able to attend the group independently (initially Shaun being picked up by the bus meant many phone calls from his mum to gauge when the bus would arrive and drop him home).” *names changed