February 8, 2012

Mentors – Class of Jan 2012

61 volunteers were shortlisted from over 80 volunteer applications this year for the Jan-Feb 2012 batch of volunteer mentors.


46 volunteers completed the 4 day training held on Jan 8, 22, 29 and Feb 5 at SCMI -Students Christian Movement of India campus, Mission Road, Bangalore. 

Dr. Dave Pearson and Dr. Fiona Kennedy returned once again this year to support the training for Dream A Dream’s mentoring program. As always, they have been amazing, keeping the group engaged, with their fantastic sense of humour, bringing a lot of fun to learning and also challenging everyone to unlearn and open their minds to deeper listening and validation.

The training was great! Fiona and Dave helped us understand what is to be a mentor. And we were taken care of so much, it felt good being there. As, a counsellor it was easy to understand the class. I also liked the way Fiona woke us up after a good lunch by making us do few stretching exercises! I am looking forward to meeting my mentee”, shared Mohsina Ahmed, a volunteer who was part of the training.

The training covered different aspects of child development psychology and skills practice needed for mentoring – child development, mental health, relationships, formulation, advanced formulation, validation, positive- negative reinforcements.

Talking about her experience at the training, Diana Thomas said, " The concept of mentoring a child was explained in the most simple and effective manner by Fiona and Dave. Also, the course manual put together by them is extremely user friendly. All in all it was a really good experience."


The mentor manual authored by Dave and Fiona and published for the first time last year, have brought more depth to the training, allowing volunteers to read, remember concepts and practice. Angie and Upesh from 'The Other Design Studio' helped design and print the manual with fantastic illustrations and layouts for each chapter.

At each session, volunteers engaged in role plays and group activities to practice skills in validation, formulation, positive- negative reinforcement...etc. This made the sessions interactive and really tested volunteers in terms of applying the skills learnt to a real-life situation.

The sessions witnessed so many different points of view. There was an explosion of questions, some expected, some brilliant and some hilarious!

“Is it validation level 3 or 4 or 5?”

“Do we do formulation first or action plan?”

“Is it positive reinforcement or negative reinforcement or punishment?”

“I knew I needed to do the validation homework and practice this week but......”

However through all of this emerged deep insights and learning, carefully revealed to the group by Dave and Fiona.

"What is this strange looking diagram?"

Formulation seemed complicated to many at the start. Gradually with more role-plays and group assignments, the groups got better and better. There was a greater understanding of behaviour of disadvantaged children and how the forces of negative and positive reinforcements affect behaviour.

Initially holding oneself back from problem-solving and focussing just on validation seemed a huge challenge and awkward or an unnatural response for many volunteers. But as the days went on, the group made excellent progress and validation seemed easier and more natural.

Over the last 2 years, the program had the capacity to enrol 50 children once a year. To enable the program to have 2 or more cycles in a year and reach out to more children or support other organisations, Dave and Fiona have trained Dream A Dream’s in-house training team - Nilisha Mohapatra, Suchetha Bhat, Vishal Talreja, Deepali Nahanta, Usha Shettigar and Katryn Kylee.

Volunteers will now undergo matching with young people across five different neighbourhoods through five community partner centers in Bangalore - Roopena Agrahara/Bommanahalli, Adugodi, Dairy Circle, J.P. Nagar, Koramangala/ Rajendranagar/ Eijipura and Austin Town. This year, for the first time, we have started working with Balamandira Govt. Boys Home, Dairy Circle with the help of Makkala Jagriti and DreamConnectCenter (Dream A Dream's community learning center in Koramangala).

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