The Value of The Mayfly Project for Children in Foster Care
I couldn’t believe the change in behavior and spirit prior to our outing with TMP and then post outing—it was night and day. The children came feeling nervous and struggling to stay positive, and then once they started participating in the project their behavior and attitude changed. Seeing the children smiling, feeling good about their accomplishments and themselves, enjoying time in nature, and excited about life, was worth more than we could have ever expected.
Benefits of Fly Fishing
Some report that when they return from a day of fly fishing they feel as if they have participated in a day of talk-therapy without having to say a word. We use fly fishing as a mentoring tool for children in foster care because of its meditative sequences–therapists often prescribe fly fishing to those who suffer with PTSD, depression, and anxiety disorders as a coping mechanism.
From our experience, children that participate in our mentoring sessions experience the calming effects of time near water, improved self-esteem from fly fishing successes and learning new skills, and they find so much joy when they finally trick a fish with a fly they tied themselves!
Improving Mental Health
Beyond the fun of fly fishing, during their time with The Mayfly Project, our mentees follow a curriculum that includes sections focused on educating how nature and fly fishing can improve mental health, called, “Characteristics of an Angler.”
These characteristics include: Patience, Self-Confidence, Finding Brain Rest, Building Grit, Seeking Wisdom, and Appreciating the Environment. During the project, we reflect back to this curriculum often, and ensure our mentees are in an emotionally and physically safe environment so they can have the best experiences.
Providing 1:1 Mentorship
Our caseworkers report that our mentee’s favorite part of joining in a Mayfly Project is having their own mentor. We provide a 1:1 mentor ratio and also a 3 in a group safety policy so that our mentees have the optimal opportunity to learn how to fly fish and receive positive attention, while also being in a safe environment.
We believe children learn what they live, so these interactions with positive role models and mentors is an experience that will impact their lives beyond the time on the water together. We all remember the person that took time from their lives to take us fishing, and children in foster care deserve that experience.