Over the past six years Hope Blooms has provided a safe space where youth have the opportunity to work with adult mentors, community members, the business community, and various neighborhood agencies to take control over their futures. Many of our youth are natural leaders, and as they get older, we make it a priority to provide a creative space for them to explore and further develop their leadership skills. In 2011 we had our first jr leader step up to the plate. In 2012 this number grew to five, and in 2013 we had a team of nine jr leaders, all between the ages of 12-15 willing to take on more responsibility as role models and teachers to the younger youth, jr-facilitators and activity leaders. These youth are the backbone to much of what we do. While they all take part in every aspect of the programs, they also have the opportunity to specialize in an area of particular interest. This year, in 2013 we had 2 marketing and media jr leaders, 2 activity jr leaders, 2 kitchen jr leaders, 1 garden jr leader, 1 greenhouse jr leader, and 1 record keeper and administrator jr leader. Youth receive small honorariums for their work as jr leaders, as we believe in compensating them properly and valuing the work they contribute.
In the spring of 2013, we launched a new mentorship program in collaboration with St. George’s YouthNet Society, expanding on the already existing leadership programming of both organizations. Building on the youths’ hobby and career interests, such as cooking, engineering, choreography, politics and construction, we paired up with local professionals and ran youth-led interviews with experts in the field in order to help prepare these youth for their futures.