Mentors Matter – A Conversation with Isy Castillo
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” were the immortal words of Maya Angelou that Isy Castillo shared with me during our conversation about mentoring. The subjects of inspiration and impact proved to be the crux of the discussion that was built around understanding the methods of an effective mentor.
I reached out to Isy Castillo to discuss her experiences in her role as Child & Youth Program Manager at Some Other Solutions as well as her approach to mentoring children and youth. My instinct to reach out to Isy came from seeing the positive impact she has made on countless mentees across Wood Buffalo, as well as her own team at Some Other Solutions.
I first met Isy in Summer 2014 while I was a student working at Some Other Solutions as a Summer Camp Mentor. The trio working in the camp were myself, another Mentor, and Isy. In balancing a team of Mentors, each person played a certain “role” – I was the energetic game-based Mentor, while the other Mentor ran a tight ship based on rules and discipline. While we were opposites, we both looked to Isy, our third Mentor, and saw a leader who displayed a balance of kindness, patience, and support. These virtues inspired not only the children and youth she mentored, but her team members.
Now working as the Child & Youth Program Manager, Isy now manages a staff of Community Outreach Workers and a Youth Engagement Facilitator. Together, the Child & Youth team offer seven different programs to the Wood Buffalo Community, including the Heart of Matter Program, SportPlay, MindDesign, Mentoring Program, Junior Mentor Program, Community Helpers, and the Creative Roots Summer Camp.
To discover what fuels Isy’s passion for supporting youth in the community, I inquired about her journey to entering the world of mentoring.
“I always think back to the moment where this one teacher who pushed me to see my own worth and make me see that I was capable of getting to where I want to go. I knew I wanted to do something that would make an impact in someone’s life and be a support. So having that support of someone believing in me to achieve my goals inspired me because it was important in my own life. A lot of people who go into the mentoring field tend to have had a strong mentor present for them – I know that made a difference in my own life, so I hope to continue that in the time I spend working with kids.”
The impact of having a such strong support in her life left a lasting impact on Isy, motivating her to want to offer that level of impact on to others. But what exactly is mentoring?
“Mentoring is a broad term and it looks different depending on the people and the circumstances,” says Isy. “At the root of it all, it is about being a positive support in someone’s life. In the Some Other Solutions context, it is about having an adult/peer relationship with a child or youth. To do this, mentors need to be with their mentee – see them, hear them, and be there for them.”
One of the strategies Isy employs in fostering a relationship with the children and youth she works with is trying to build a rapport.
“I like to discover what their interests are not only show I care, but also to find common ground – like with music. I’ll ask them to share their top three favourite songs, and then I’ll share my favourites, and then we talk about why these artists are important right now in our lives. After a rapport is established, you can go into some of the stuff they’re working on – like resiliency-based topics, because many of the things challenging these children and youth are based around stress. With mentoring and being able to meet (the youth) where they’re at, you can be present with them.”
One of Isy’s major achievements was revitalizing the Some Other Solutions Summer Camp Program. In 2017, Isy and Executive Director Jason King plotted how to evolve the camp into an exciting activities-based camp for the children and youth of Wood Buffalo.
With the support of Westview School and Principle Jeffrey Porter, Some Other Solutions was able to successfully launch the Creative Roots Summer Camp during the summer 2018. With the success of the 2018 Summer Camp, Isy, Jason, and the Some Other Solutions team are proud to announce that the Creative Roots Summer Camp will be returning to Wood Buffalo in July 2019.
This five-week camp offers children and youth in the community a fun and affordable opportunity to stay active, make friends, and most importantly, have fun. At this camp, the campers are supported by a team of dedicated mentors lead by Isy and her infectious enthusiasm for her work.
Registration is open for the 2019 season – so be sure to follow Some Other Solutions on Facebook (Some Other Solutions) Instagram (someothersolutions) and Twitter (@SOS_YMM) for updates.
Photo: Isy Castillo, Child & Youth Program Manager at Some Other Solutions. Supplied photo
If you have any questions for Isy regarding the 2019 CREATIVE ROOTS Summer Camp, message firstname.lastname@example.org.