- What is your name and association with K1 Britannia Foundation?
My name is Priya Thirumur and I’m one of the founders of the K1 Britannia Foundation.
- What is the K1 Britannia Foundation about?
The foundation was set up on the island in early 2014 and a few of our core goals as a maritime foundation is to help kids that come under protective custody of the court of guardianship such as foster kids who are usually victims of neglect and abuse, and also troubled youth to help try to turn their lives around and give them a second chance.
One of our other strong focus is giving everybody a chance to make difference. One of the things that was on my heart in setting up the foundation is that so many people complain about problems on the island but don’t realize they can be part of the solution. So through our volunteer program, we give everybody regardless of their limitations with time a chance to make a difference in a specific way and field that they are interested in.
- You mentioned foster kids and troubled youth, why is this target group so important to you and the foundation?
There are over 100 foster youth on the island. Working with troubled youth, I have seen that a lot of them have come from a background of abuse and neglect and lack of basic guidance as kids. Many do not see this connection and with the rise of crime on the island more people should stop and ask themselves “Why is there a rise in youth crime?” “How can it be prevented? “
Because of their background, foster kids and troubled youth are a very high-risk group that need the time, love and attention for them to be able to be a productive part of our future of the island.
- What motivated you personally to work with troubled, disadvantaged, needy youth?
I find that the experiences that we go through in our own life are what motivates us to help others. I personally came from a background of being a very troubled youth. Somebody had faith in me, saw past the mess that I was and encouraged me to reach my full potential by finding out what I was meant to do with my life and following it with a passion. That experience is what made me want to work with troubled youth and to give everybody a chance to reach their full potential. As a teenager, many people use to tell me I would never amount to anything, I’ll never be able to do something productive in my life, because of how messed up I was and having gone through that, it is very hard for me to write off anybody as having no potential or not being worth investing time, love and care into. I know that even having one person having faith and seeing something in you, being willing to fight for you and give you a chance can change your life completely. I believe everybody deserves that chance and if you think about the long term effects that a little love can have in a foster child’s life and their future, it is so worth it.
- How did the mentorship program come about?
The program came about after discussions with the Court of Guardianship and Family Guardianship, we realized that the main thing that a child needs in order to heal from abusive and other emotional damaging experiences is to receive one on one time, love and care. The way the foster care system is set up, there are many kids for very few adults, so currently there is not enough provision made to give these kids that individual time and love.
The best solution we found was to find everyone a mentor. As a mentor, you become the most important person in the world for that child and you play a very vital part of their life by giving them love and counseling which can heal them and put them on the path of becoming well-adjusted people.
- What impact have you seen with kids who have a mentor?
I have seen a special difference between kids and teenagers who have and haven’t gotten a mentor. Honestly, everybody can make a difference, even if you have 2-4 hours a week, you can change a child’s life forever. Each person with a small sacrifice of their time, can help put these kids on the path to do incredible things with their lives and become the people they were always meant to be.
- How can persons become a mentor and start changing lives?
People that want to become mentors can first sign up as a volunteer online at https://k1britanniafoundation.org/volunteer/. We host a STAP training (mentor’s training) twice a year and it covers the foster care system, abuse, communication and really highlights the need why people should play a role in helping kids like this.
After the course, each individual can decide if they are able to become a mentor. They can then decide the age and gender of the child they’ll like to mentor either individually or as a family. We ask for a one-year commitment because having a mentor they can count on and get close to for at least a year means a lot.
I would encourage you to take it as a personal challenge to become a mentor for a year and play an active role in changing one’s person life. One child’s life is a part of impacting the future. I believe that each of us should step up to the plate, be there for a young person at this time in their life, give the youth the chance to make the right choices and be on a path that can make this island proud.
We host a STAP training (mentor’s training) twice a year, the next one is starting Tuesday, November 1st so if you are interested contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org, +17215538186, or via our Facebook page.