Giving Youth Independence Through Mentoring

Brayden Ferguson is a second-year graduate student at Adams State University in the Counselor Education program. To gain practical experience as part of his program, he mentors youth during his free time at La Plata Youth Services. Ferguson had worked with youth in wilderness settings in the past but being one-on-one with a mentee has allowed him to see how the relationship can flourish and grow.

"I have been surprised to see how the youth I have worked with really grow into themselves, learn independence and resiliency," says Ferguson.

Ferguson spends a few hours a week with his mentee after school, giving the student autonomy to choose an activity. His mentee is really interested in mountain biking so they meet up at different places each week. Ferguson emphasizes it is a time to have fun together, not something that feels forced. He also incorporates positive coping skills into their sessions and points out areas where his mentee has shown growth over time.

"LPYS really sets you up for success through their training program and with bi-weekly check-ins for supervision. I can really see how the model works, allowing youth to find their own voice and building confidence in who they are and what they want," explains Ferguson.

To someone who is interested in becoming a Radical Possibilities mentor, Ferguson suggests being patient and adaptable with mentees. He explains the main thing you can offer youth is to be a positive role model in their lives and above all else just to have fun.

Ferguson is still working with his mentee while his internship phase continues but now he is expanding his practical experience to LPYS's Youth Diversion program. Here he is shadowing staff while they work with youth who have ended up in the court system. As part of the diversion program, youth learn restorative practices to address the reasons they came to the program and to repair any harm they caused.

Ferguson plans to continue working with youth in the future and he is currently raising funds for LPYS programming as part of an upcoming trail marathon in Moab on Nov. 4th. His goal is to raise $100 for every mile he is running and he is almost halfway to his goal. Please consider donating to his fundraiser!

We are always looking for mentors and it is open to anyone not just students. Apply now to become a Radical Possibilities mentor!