The Teens and Toddlers programme helps young people improve their wellbeing and educational engagement to succeed at school and in life, through the experience of mentoring nursery children.

Ruby, 15, was referred to the Teens and Toddlers programme as she had recently become very shy and withdrawn which was impacting her engagement in school and with friends.

We know that sitting behind distressed behaviour is often trauma, and this was exactly the case for Ruby. Ruby was having a really difficult time at home. She had recently lost a parent to cancer.

Power2 Programme Lead, Candice, supported Ruby on the programme. She said, “When we met in the first session, Ruby was quiet and reserved, yet her wisdom and maturity were immediately apparent to me.”

“Although she did not have the confidence to share her ideas in the group sessions, her notes reflected a thorough understanding of the programme. She was incredibly motivated to take part but found it very difficult to speak up. During our first session, she identified confidence and communication as the main things she hoped to improve.”

As the group prepared to go along to the local nursery for the first time, Ruby’s fears started to mount up. Candice said, “In our group check-in, she opened up and shared her worries about spending time with strangers in such a busy environment.”

Although Ruby found the first few sessions quite challenging, she overcame her fears and was able to hold conversations with toddlers, lead some activities and started to feel more comfortable in the group. Ruby said, “Being in a group with lots of people can be mentally draining but since we are not in a large group, I feel more confident talking out loud.”

All the members of the group had started to open up, sharing their views and listening to each other's stories which helped Ruby open up too. Ruby said, “I am starting to get used to being in the group and having the same people to talk to, who are going through the same thing as me.”

Gradually, Ruby continued to grow in confidence, especially in the nursery. Candice said, “She would not hesitate to take initiative. She showed great enthusiasm and seemed to enjoy her sessions which she told me were ‘the best part of her week’. It was evident that she could see the positive impact she was having on her mentee who was always incredibly excited to see her. This, in turn, enabled her to realise what she was capable of.”

During the final session in the nursery, Ruby and her peers made cards to give to their mentees. Here is an extract of what Ruby wrote:

“I have enjoyed all of the time we have spent together – we have shared many memories and fun activities (..) and it is hard to say goodbye but goodbyes don’t have to be sad! You should always remember the good times you have with people and always make them last as you never know when the end will come. (…) Remember, no matter how many times you fall, always pick yourself up again. (…) Live life to the fullest and always have fun.”

Candice said, “Ruby and her mentee played together for the rest of the nursery session. I could not help but notice how much more confident she seemed, how much brighter her smile was, and how much happier she looked. Ruby had learned to see herself the way her mentee saw her - as a confident, caring young person.”

Ruby stayed behind at the end of the session, waiting for her friends to leave the room and handed Candice a letter. She wrote, “I have really enjoyed all of the sessions, we should treasure all of the memories and remember the times that we have all shared. You gave us the chance to interact with people that we would never have met in another setting, without the opportunity you have given us we would have had nothing to look forward to during the week. We were able to enjoy Thursdays as not only did we get time to relax, but we got to see people who brought us happiness in times of darkness.”

We’re incredibly proud of Ruby and we know that the skills she has developed will undoubtedly provide her with a solid foundation to thrive.