Creating A Safe Space For Youth
Meet Vera Lynn
Corporate Volunteer, COO Centre
ELEMENTS Mentor, NFTE Coach & Judge, NTU Unbound Judge
A seasoned corporate volunteer with Halogen, Vera has helped to enable youth development across various roles: as a mentor with the ELEMENTS mentorship programme, a coach and judge for the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) programme, and more. She shares her perspective on volunteering with Halogen, and what drives her to make a difference in the lives of young people.
With over 20 years of experience in the youth development space, Vera Lynn is no stranger to helping youth, be it through mentoring or coaching students.
The NFTE coach and ELEMENTS mentor started her youth volunteering journey when she was working as a finance analyst, having gotten wind of a volunteering opportunity through a corporate engagement with Junior Achievement of New York. This led to her bowling with high school students, providing advice on post-high school life over lunch, and even becoming a mentor to one of the students eventually.
Creating a safe space for youth is what motivates Vera to be a part of the youth support system. “I wanted to assure them that there is always someone there to listen, lend a helping hand, and provide constructive advice/feedback without passing judgement,” she shares.
She hopes to maintain a safe environment that youths can approach to learn and grow, whenever they encounter difficult situations in life. “Youth is a crucial time before adulthood,” she notes. “Their mindsets, values and personalities are still ‘moldable’… A lot of exposure or opportunities, good and bad, will be available to them for the first time.” As this period can be both overwhelming and daunting, she hopes to empower young people through guidance and positive encouragement, to believe in themselves and chase their goals.
Honing entrepreneurial mindsets in youth
Having been deeply involved with NFTE as a coach and Semi-final judge for the NFTE Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge 2020, Vera describes NFTE as being well designed to provide youth with the skill sets to sharpen their critical and analytical thinking, resilience, and businesses senses, and to develop the skills needed to become successful entrepreneurs.
“It’s a very rewarding experience thus far, seeing the youth’s business ideas from concept to potential viable market solutions, helping to sow the seed of confidence in the youth that they could one day become entrepreneurs,” says Vera, adding that the programme enables volunteer coaches to get involved with different parts of youths’ business presentations.
Empowering youth through mentorship
Vera also serves as a mentor for the ELEMENTS Mentoring programme, and is currently mentoring three talents in her second year in this role. Acknowledging that youths face an increasingly competitive environment, she credits them for the work required of them on top of their other obligations, such as their academic workload, extra curricular activities, and family commitments. As a mentor, she encourages her mentees to consider different perspectives, try new approaches, and to embrace mistakes or setbacks, bearing in mind that there are always good lessons to be learned from them.
The satisfaction of knowing that she has made a difference in a youth’s journey is a great reward of the volunteering journey for Vera, who feels closer to the youth community, as she has a deeper understanding of their mindsets, motivations, and the challenges they face.
“I get a lot of joy and pride from their success,” she reflects. “It helps me continue to build humility and empathy in life, not just in mentoring.”
Keen to make a difference in the lives of youth, and play a part in empowering them to reach their fullest potential? Join our community of youth developers here!