When people speak of mentorship, they’re often referring to a professional relationship. This isn’t always the case, though. We see mentorship in a personal setting all the time. Mentorship and friendship can and do overlap; in fact, friendship is sometimes the driving force behind a positive mentor-mentee relationship. In honour of International Mentoring Day on January 17th, we want to acknowledge the importance of mentorship in a social setting and celebrate the incredible mentors at the heart of Best Buddies Canada.
Mentorship plays a huge role in our mission to foster one-to-one friendships, spread inclusion, and provide leadership development to individuals with IDD. In the Best Buddies program, students across Canada give their time and energy to develop friendships with their peers and foster unity in their schools. These students are leaders paving the way for a more inclusive and accepting community. As they develop deeper bonds with their paired buddies, students often begin to open up and offer guidance and advice; friendships are extended to mentorships.
Mentorship teaches us to lift each other up and create powerful, positive relationships. It also helps us to promote understanding, acceptance, and empathy. For individuals who may feel isolated or excluded, having a friend and a mentor to turn to can serve as a lifeline to experience personal growth. Our program aims to create a community where everyone is recognized for their abilities and talents, regardless of differences.
Buddy pair Justin and Danny have been friends for over six years, having met in the Best Buddies program at McGill University. Their friendship has developed over the years and Justin is a true friend and mentor to Danny. They do a lot of different activities together, but their favourite would have to be watching sports and wrestling and going out for fish and chips. Justin explains, “Volunteering with Best Buddies has been an incredibly rewarding experience for me. My brother lives with intellectual disabilities, and joining Best Buddies was a way for me to stay involved with that community despite being away for school. Danny and I have been lucky to be supported through so many Best Buddies activities, and it speaks to the power of the program that we’re not just buddies, we’re true friends.” Justin and Danny are just one buddy pair impacted by Best Buddies Canada’s friendship program and mentorship opportunities.
The benefits of mentorship don’t only go one way. Mentors can serve as guides by sharing their own experiences and helping their friends to discover their unique strengths. Mentees, too, give mentors the opportunity to look at things in a whole new way and develop deep, meaningful relationships. Both buddies and peer buddies experience connection, trust, guidance, and encouragement. This positive impact extends far beyond the buddy pair. It ripples through schools, communities, and cities.
On this International Mentorship Day, Best Buddies Canada continues our mission of spreading friendship and inclusion by creating mentorship opportunities and impactful mentor-mentee – or buddy-peer buddy – relationships.