Today is International Mentoring Day 2022, a day amongst many other Observance days in January, the first month of the Gregorian calendar, New Year Day, Global Family Day, World Braille Day, World Day of War Orphans.
It is also a time to #ThankYourMentor.
The purpose of International Mentoring Day is to foster global understanding and to support the mentoring movement worldwide.
DAI celebrates and thanks all mentors today, whilst also honoring the legacy of Muhammad Ali. Since 2017, this day has been observed during National Mentoring Month. It takes place on the birthday of boxing legend and global humanitarian Muhammad Ali, which would have been his would have been his 75th birthday.
It is a day of international conversations globally, on social media where photos, videos and messages of powerful mentoring stories are shared. Muhammad Ali’s legacy is the inspiration for the day, specifically his six core principles of:
- Giving, and
Many people might not be aware that mentoring is a crucial part of advocacy development for both the senior advocate (mentor) and novice advocate (mentee).
The mentoring relationships help to guide and shape novice advocates, and help to strengthen the mentor’s confidence and become more reflective of their journey.
Confidence is one key aspect that many people with dementia need to regain after the diagnosis, when most people diagnosed are only advised to get their end of life affairs in order.
The stigma and the assumption of incapacity causes people with dementia to self-doubt about themselves because they have been repeatedly told, “You cannot do this” and is also partly responsible for self-stigma.
It is, therefore, not surprising to find novice advocates feeling positive when they first step up to speak for themselves as advocates; the joy of once again being listened to. To have the opportunity to say something and have your voice heard, to be seen, and acknowledged for their existence again.
However, to come to this stage, people with dementia need to see and meet with others with dementia who have stepped up as advocates. To hear from senior (not necessarily older in age) or pioneer advocates about what motivated them to become advocates, as well as their advocacy experiences, including what has been successful, and what has failed.
To stand in front of a group and advocate for what you believe in demands conviction. And for a highly stigmatized and heavily discriminated condition like dementia, it helps to have like-minded people who can be there to support and encourage each other. The unshaken belief that it is the right thing to do toughens the spirit of an advocate.
In DAI, we are very proud of our pioneers and senior mentors like James McKillop, Christine Bryden, Kate Swaffer, Agnes Houston, Amy Shives, Helga Rohra, Dr Jennifer Bute, Howard Gordon, Christine Thelker, and others such as the late Dr Richard Taylor, Dena Dotson and Peter Ashleigh. There are so many others who continue to stay strong despite barriers encountered in their journey as advocates, and it is simply not possible to name them all.
Last but not least is the mentoring relationship taught to ‘new’ advocates that is critical, the need to pass the baton from experienced advocates who become mentors to those who are new to advocacy, and to stand by and guide them.
Every advocate needs a mentor to guide and keep them on track, and to advise them of the history of advocacy, especially so that they don’t repeat past mistakes, or attempts in advocacy that were ineffective.
Likewise, every mentor needs to pass down the values and keep the spirit of conviction burning bright in their mentees.
The DAI peer to peer support groups have provided these opportunities for people living with dementia for over eight years, and whilst they provide support and friendship, they also support mentors and mentees to start, and to continue to advocate locally, nationally or globally.
Thanks to the ongoing mentoring from the Alumni board members, two of our board members can step up to take on the leadership role from Alister Robertson, who is on a two month Leave of Absence from the Board and Chair role due to personal family health issue.
The board and members of DAI thank Emily Ong and Cheryl Day for stepping up to take on the role of acting co-chairs for two months.
We send a big Thank You to all of our Mentors, past and current.