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Training Takeaways: Creating Spaces of Joy

The Training Takeaways Series highlights key points from recent MENTOR NY training workshops.


Mentoring is an incredible opportunity for young people to learn, grow, and thrive—and it's not just about academics and goal-setting! We can't forget the power of fun in building strong connections and achieving positive outcomes for mentees. In this Training Takeaways, we'll explore how you can inject some joy, excitement, and adventure into your mentoring journey.

1. Embrace the Importance of Play

Playful activities offer numerous benefits, from fostering creativity to alleviating stress. In mentoring relationships, play also has a critical role in building trust, increasing communication, leveling the power imbalance between mentors and mentees, and strengthening their bond.


2. Infuse Playfulness Into Your Regular Interactions

Play doesn't have to be a separate pursuit! You can bring a joyful stance to mentoring activities that might otherwise seem underwhelming by sharing funny stories, bringing exciting things to share, or simply smiling warmly and often. Play provides a background for conversations and a way to connect and share experiences that can deepen the mentoring relationship.

3. Use a Strengths-Based Approach

Take the time to recognize and nurture the unique strengths and passions of your mentee. By using play to explore these assets, you can empower them to achieve their goals and reach their full potential. Adopting a strengths-based approach means you're not just a mentor—you're a champion, cheering them on toward their dreams!


4. Discover Your Mentee's "Sparks"

Encouraging "sparks" can help your mentee pursue their passions with confidence. Sparks are the interests that light a fire in their lives and express the essence of who they are. There are many ways to offer encouragement, such as asking thoughtful questions, creating a vision board, finding resources to support their favorite activities, and celebrating accomplishments.

5. Consider the Context of Your Mentoring Relationship

When incorporating play into your interactions, it's important to tailor your activities to your mentee's age and interests. Young children may benefit from animated books that teach themes of freedom, love, and acceptance, while adolescents might prefer rule-based competitive games. Avoid gender-affirming stereotypes about what types of activities are better for girls versus boys, taking into consideration non-gendered and transitioning youth. Finally, remember to assess where you are in the mentoring relationship to find the right balance of fun and focus, depending on your mentee's age. Would you like to implement these and other research-informed best practices within your organization? Reach out to Joie or another member of our team to learn how you can get started.


About the Workshop Facilitator

MENTOR New York's team includes experienced trainers with expertise in youth development, mentoring, program operations, and more.

Joie is an enthusiastic nonprofit leader, teacher, artist, advocate, and mentoring professional with 10+ years of experience in developing, executing, and sustaining educational and youth development programs. She has worked closely with public schools and youth programs to elevate students' voices, build safe and inclusive learning environments, and equip youth workers with effective practices to drive social change and contribute to a just society.


Joie uses creative management tactics and playful facilitation approaches to build a sense of belonging within a community and collectively achieve results. Joie earned her BA and teaching certification from Emerson College and her Masters of Science in Nonprofit Management from The New School in New York City.

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