'I CAN' Mentoring Program

By Awetism Rethink Inc trading as I Can Network

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The 'I CAN' Mentoring Program is building a confident 'I CAN' attitude in the hearts and minds of young people on the Autism Spectrum, through peer-to-peer mentoring.

The problem - 'I Can't' self-talk
  • 86% of students on the Autism Spectrum report facing 'difficulty' at school, with 80% targeted in schoolyard bullying
  • 81% of people with Autism do not have a post-school qualification
  • 58% of Australians with Autism are unemployed
Youth with Autism are learning to say 'I Can't' from childhood and may experience difficulty meeting life's challenges.

The solution - 'I CAN' attitude

Youth on the spectrum need encouragement and support to achieve their potential. The I CAN Network aims to disrupt the status quo, and drive an 'Awetism Rethink'. We are a network of young people connected to the Autism Spectrum who are delivering programs for young people on the Autism Spectrum. We are the game-changer.

We have achieved outstanding results. We have done this by delivering peer-to-peer mentoring programs that move young people from negative 'I Can't' self-talk to an 'I CAN' attitude. Our 'special sauce' is our unique approach called 'quiet magic'. Quiet magic consists of enabling, not labelling young people. This involves understanding and responding to the individual young person's needs, encouraging 'challenge by choice' and approaching each individual with unconditional positive regard.

Our specific mentoring initiatives are the following: -

I CAN Camps - We have brought together 90 teenagers and young adults on the spectrum who, until meeting like-minded others, have felt socially isolated and rejected by their peers. Our participants have reported large boosts in self confidence and have become more engaged in social and extracurricular activities since attending an I CAN Camp.

I CAN Schools and Tertiary Networks - We have piloted mentoring programs in three schools and two universities. This has fostered social connection between students, given students self-confidence and trained students to mentor junior students. The programs are delivered by young people with Autism. Students, parents, teachers, and school management teams have all reported great improvements.

What your support will achieve: Mentor Academy

We are experiencing high demand from schools and universities nationally to expand our programs. To grow our reach for Terms 3 and 4 in the school calendar year we want to train up 50 young mentors. We will be recruiting mentors from our camps and from universities and TAFEs. The intent is for current tertiary students to raise the aspirations and self-confidence of teenagers on the spectrum and turbocharge the number of young people with Autism gaining a tertiary education.

Your support will develop the capacity of these 50 student mentors. We will be bringing these mentors together for an ongoing 'mentor academy' kicking off in late June 2015. We are seeking $10,000 to support the capacity-development of our mentors.

This is how the $10,000 will be spent:
  • $4,000 to support the travel and accommodation of young people
  • $2,500 to support guest presenters on youth development, mentoring, campaigning and fundraising
  • $3,500 to train mentors in mental health first aid
If we raise money in excess of $10,000 it will be invested into our I CAN Schools program (we need $7,000 to work in a school), particularly for schools where there are students on the spectrum who are from low socio-economic areas.

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Team Members

Chris Varney

Chloe Stuart

Christian Tsoutsouvas

Daniel Giles

Elise Muller

Jackie Chanzi

Max Williams

Penny Robinson