If you haven’t heard of the Be the Mentor programme, then you’re in the right place. The aim of the programme is to curb underage consumption. It is a mentorship programme created by The South African Breweries encouraging those who can, to be mentors to youngsters who have been subject to alcohol before the age of 18. That’s one in every two teenagers in South Africa according to aware.org.
How does SAB actively do this? Through the Smart Drinking Squad (SDS). The Smart Drinking Squad gives guidance to their peer mentors on how to avoid the negative effects of alcohol abuse and underage drinking. They are an integral part of the Be the Mentor programme because they are responsible for training other mentors who interact with mentees who are in need of assistance.
Over the next couple of months, we will be showcasing a few of our SDS mentors and their role in training other mentors. We will learn about what led them to become a mentor and how they believe the Be the Mentor programme is making a change for the better in South Africa.
WHY DO TEENS NEED PEER MENTORSHIP?
While many teenagers benefit from teachers, parents and other forms of ‘mentors’ informing them about the effects of drinking whilst underage, addressing the underlying causes and consequences of it can be very tricky to solve.
There are innumerable factors that could lead to underage consumption including, inter alia; poverty, stress, low self-esteem, family issues peer pressure. These factors coupled with underage consumption can lead to negative impacts in a young person’s life, with the possibility of teenage pregnancy, dropping out of school and even mental health issues.
Whilst peer mentorship can’t resolve all issues relating to underage drinking, it can help fill a few gaps in supporting these teenagers as well as help them manage their stress, school life, and other contributing factors. Our SDS Mentors help our mentors on the ground have a structured approach to the support and guidance they offer their mentees.
Having a trustworthy mentor to guide a teenager to achieve their goals at this sensitive stage of their life is invaluable. The Be The Mentor structured peer mentorship programme, with a dedicated community of SDSs, a strong training component, a reliable network of mentors, a focus on trust and goals, regular meet-ups and a strong support network, has proven successful at reducing underage alcohol consumption and achieving mentee’s goals.
LET’S GET TO KNOW OUR 1ST SDS MENTOR, NONHLE.
Nonhle is a social worker who became a member of the Smart Drinking Squad to be part of the change in positively impacting South African youth by curbing underage consumption. Nonhle wants to start by enforcing change within her community.
We asked her a few questions to hear what values a mentor should uphold and what it means to a young person to have a mentor. Let’s have a look...
• What is the reason you became a mentor?
I became a mentor to bring about a positive change within my own community. I wanted to have the opportunity to encourage others to give guidance and support through mentorship. We don’t realise the power we have until you see the effects of it in play.
• What are you doing to make a difference?
There are small things that I do each day, but I’d say the biggest difference I’ve seen from my actions is when I work together with other mentors in my community to educate teenagers on underage drinking which in turn helps to prevent it.
• What phrase would you put on a billboard to tell the youth not to drink?
Underage drinking = stolen future
• In your experience what are the top three consequences of underage drinking that you have seen amongst youth?
The high rate in school dropout & drop in performance
Introduction to other substances
An increase in teen pregnancies and STDs
• What advice do you have for new mentors?
To new mentors, I implore you to be an active listener – listen to implied messages, you may be being told something and not realise it.
Don’t be a superhero, just be you – your natural self. As if you were with a friend looking for advice but remember who you are talking to – remember your boundaries when speaking to a young, vulnerable teen.
Also keep in mind that this should be something to enjoy, don’t be so serious all the time. You want to be that mentor that mentees look forward to seeing again because you bring a certain energy that they’ve been lacking. People feed off of other’s energy, it’s important to keep that in mind. Enjoy empowering someone – it’s a great feeling to be able to give someone help and support.
YOU MAY NOT KNOW IT, BUT THIS CAN BE YOU TOO!
If you believe you can make a difference (even if it’s the smallest difference) to a younger life that may be affected by underage drinking, pledge to be a mentor now by clicking here.
Keep an eye out for our future SDS Mentors! We’ll be giving you the low down on each of them and tips on how to be the best mentor you can be.