Maryanne’s mentoring experience with Geelong Youth Engagement

Maryanne and the team did a 21-kilometre hike on the weekend. Taking 5.5 hours, the hike started at Cozy Corner in Torquay, went along the coast into the Ironbark Basin trail and then back.
Maryanne and the team did a 21-kilometre hike on the weekend. Taking 5.5 hours, the hike started at Cozy Corner in Torquay and went along the coast into the Ironbark Basin trail.

Adroit Insurance & Risk, one of our community partners, has a long culture of supporting and engaging with the local community. Maryanne Cleasby, Head of Business Improvement and IT at Adroit Insurance & Risk, is a volunteer mentor on Geelong Youth Engagement’s (the recipient of last year’s P500 grant) Kokoda Youth Program.

Maryanne has experienced first-hand how being a mentor with Geelong Youth Engagement builds resilience physically and mentally, as well as enhances connection through the supportive relationships made with the young people. We chat with Maryanne to learn about her experiences volunteering as a mentor on Geelong Youth Engagement’s youth resilience program.

Steph Davie, a mentor from Costa Asset Management with Maryanne Cleasby from Adroit
Steph Davie, a mentor from Costa Asset Management with Maryanne Cleasby from Adroit.

Q&A with Geelong Youth Engagement mentor, Maryanne Cleasby

• Why did you decide to get involved in GYE’s mentoring program?
“It was an opportunity for me to help others in the community … having the opportunity to make a difference to somebody was something that I wanted to do.”

• What has been the most rewarding aspect of the program?
“Certainly the fitness … those hills at Eastern Beach [laughs]. You cannot miss a training session – you feel that! But also just engaging with others – it’s completely out of my comfort zone. I’m not a people person or a talk-to-strangers sort of person. But because we’re the adults, we have to instigate the conversation – that has been a big learning curve and something that I’ve really had to work on. I’ve almost had to gather the courage to talk to the kids.”

What advice would you give to anyone who is interested in being a mentor?
“If you can do it, do it absolutely. Seeing the kids’ confidence increase from the first day they were there when we started in April to now, they’re different kids. They’re more confident and happy. Being able to help them and being there for them, it’s just enormous. My girls are 15 and 17, and I wish they could come and hear the stories of these kids so they realise their lives aren’t so hard.”

• Anything else you’d like to add.
“The GYE crew work fully on grants and donations from the government, so any time that anybody can help them with anything is so important. Having the opportunity to help someone like that without it being a real inconvenience to me is really rewarding. You get to see these kids actually happy when they are there. So if we can set them on the right path and help them out, then the team is doing something right.”

About Geelong Youth Engagement’s youth resilience program

The program engages young people in schools from the Geelong region who are experiencing challenges in their lives from drug or alcohol abuse to suicidal tendencies, self-harming behaviour and family violence. Up to 24 young people are selected to undertake the intensive year-long program, which involves months of physical training in preparation for walking the 96-kilometre Kokoda Trek in Papua New Guinea. During this time, the program participants are supported by mentors from local businesses and government organisations, who provide stable and genuine support in personal development, fitness, health, diet and role modelling.

As well as being involved as a mentor for Geelong Youth Engagement, Maryanne and the Adroit team have also supported Geelong Youth Engagement by participating in pie drives, trivia nights, movie nights and raffles to help raise funds for the organisation.