Rotary District 7010 Logo


A young woman smiles as her mentors watch proudly from behind her, with text overlay: Building Futures, Changing Lives

Mentor Information

Download Postcard

Carte postale Télécharger

What is Rotary Mentorship?

Rotary International's Mentorship Project for Job Seekers with Disabilities encourages experienced workers, business leaders, and professionals to help people with disabilities find work by providing advice and connections to business networks for job creation.

How Does the Program Work?

Rotarians and Rotary Clubs register to be mentors and are matched with a job seeker with a disability who is looking for work in their community. Both mentee and the mentor are then supported by project staff to guide and coordinate the mentorship relationship.

How Can I Get Involved?

As a Rotarian you can assist job seekers with disabilities in many ways. You can become involved by:
  • Becoming a Rotary Mentor through individual, club, or on-line mentorship
  • Advertising the Rotary Mentorship Program at your business, place of employment, or other appropriate agencies and services that you or your club members are involved with
  • Refer a job seeker with disability to the website for more information.
  • Hire a Rotary Mentorship Protege
  • Identify new potential partners (business, organizations serving people with disabilities) to the Rotary Mentorship program.

For more information about how you can become involved please click here.

Mentor Handbook

This section should be used as a guideline for desirable attributes or competencies that are specific to a productive Rotary Mentorship relationship. Not everyone will be appropriate for a Rotary Mentorship Relationship and this is true for both mentors and potential Proteges. The following are attributes that both mentors and Proteges should possess.

Confidentiality is Paramount to a Successful Rotary Mentorship Relationship
In order for a mentoring relationship to succeed, it must be completely confidential. Although a confidentiality agreement is written into the Rotary Mentorship contract it is important that both parties respect and understand the confidentiality agreement especially considering that the disclosure of a person's disability to a potential employer is a violation of the Employment Standards Act in Ontario

Time Commitment
Good mentoring takes time. It is recommended that the mentor and Protege within the Rotary Mentorship program to be prepared to commit to a minimum of at least 2-4 hours per month for mentoring activities, including time for preparation and review.

Within reason a Protege must be able to contact the mentor easily. Mentors should always respond to the Protege in a timely manner. A good mentorship relationship will determine ahead of time when it is appropriate for contact to take place. However, Proteges may also need a few moments of their mentor's time on short notice so flexibility is often a key component to the success of a mentoring relationship. Professionalism includes the respect for the time of others so, try and define reasonable limits and identify demands that are excessive or unreasonable. Try and set and agree upon suitable boundaries at the onset of the Mentorship Relationship.

Clear and Concise Goals and Objectives
The Protege should manage and set the goals for the mentorship relationship from the onset. It is after all the development and outcome for the Protege that is primarily at stake. This does not mean that the mentor does not have any input but the Protege must be the one who takes responsibility for the process and outcomes.

Be an Active Listener for your Rotary Protege

Most of us have never been trained in how to listen to other people. While we may think we are good listeners, most all of us do not listen as well as we should. Some common mistakes and tips to avoid them include:

  • Listening to respond. Stay focused on what the speaker is saying until it is your turn to talk. Try not to formulate your answer until the person is finished speaking. Often people try to come up with an answer prior to the speaker finishing. This usually results in not actually hearing the individual's entire statement. Wait until the individual has finished before formulating your response.
  • Do not make Assumptions! Verify what you have heard. This can be done simply by playing back or summarizing the speaker's thoughts into your words, what you think the other person has said. If you are unsure what the individual is trying to convey to you, confirm by asking appropriate questions of the speaker so you completely understand the message that was being conveyed.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

Most of us are not well versed in the art of asking questions because we have a tendency to ask questions that solicit a yes or no answer This is known as a "closed question." In many situations it is important to ask questions that give the person a chance to expand on the subject or their opinion this is known as an "open question". An example of a closed question is, "Do you like your job?" To turn that into an open question simply rephrase the question to, "How do you feel about your job?" Learning this simple technique allows for better communication and enables you to better understand what the speaker is trying to convey.

Examples of Negative Communication
  • Preaching telling someone how to behave and act
  • Ordering telling someone what they must do
  • Avoiding attempting to avoid an uncomfortable situation in the hopes it will just go away
  • Pacifying trying to make the Protege feel better without having successfully solved the problem
  • Lecturing giving someone unsolicited advice
  • Threatening telling someone that they must do it your way or there will be consequences

Read the Person's Body Language

Often body language speaks volumes about what a person is really thinking. Watch for and be cognizant of a person's body language. Watch for the following:

  • Looking away avoiding eye contact may mean discomfort, upset, disagreement, embarrassment
  • Crossing One's Arms anger, defensiveness, closed to the other's opinion
  • Head in hands fatigue, upset
  • Moving backwards, tilting chair back the individual is most likely feeling that you have invaded their space
  • Fidgeting, excessive movements may indicate anxiety, boredom

Building a Trust Relationship with your Protege

Some ways that can help Mentors build a rapport and trust with a Protege:

  • Set a comfortable tone with the Protege and try and put him/her at ease.
  • If meeting in person, pick a relaxed environment and always take into consideration accessibility depending on an individual's disability
  • Always be on time or let the Protege know if you are running late
  • Listen carefully to what each other is trying to say.
  • Ask a lot of open questions that show that you are genuinely interested
  • When giving advice, give a variety of options and find out how the Protege likes to approach situations
  • Never lecture or be condescending. You are the expert but not everyone may have the same approach to situations
  • Always try to give feedback in a positive manner, no matter how difficult the situation
  • Take initiative in the mentorship relationship and show genuine interest in the Protege call them occasionally just to see how they are doing, especially if it is not a scheduled appointment it will convey to the Protege his or her value. People with disabilities are often "devalued" in our society and making this small gesture will increase the confidence of the individual. Remember we all wish to be valued in this world.

-- Back to top --

Disability Sensitivity and Awareness- Disability and Employment in Canada

Choosing the Proper Language

Words often influence and reinforce the public's perception of people with disabilities. They can create either a positive view of people with disabilities or a negative depiction. Here are some general tips that can help make your communication and interactions with people with all types of disabilities more successful:

  • Remember to put people first. It is proper to say person with a disability, rather than disabled person.
  • Use disability or disabled, not handicap or handicapped.
  • Never use terms such as retarded, dumb, psycho, moron or crippled. These words are very demeaning and disrespectful to people with disabilities.
  • If you don't know the individual or if you are unfamiliar with the disability, it is better to wait until the individual describes his/her particular situation to you, rather than for you to make assumptions about that person or how the disability may or may not impact that individual.

Many types of disabilities have similar characteristics and your assumptions may be wrong. The following preferred words and phrases will help you choose language that is neither demeaning nor hurtful. People with disabilities prefer these terms. Below you will find a list of improper and proper terminology when referring to disability.


-- Back to top --

AODA Information Government of Ontario Goals & Objectives

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act was passed in 2005. Its goal is to make Ontario accessible for people with disabilities by 2025. Through province-wide accessibility standards, we will improve accessibility by identifying, breaking down and preventing barriers to accessibility.

This act lays the framework for the development of province-wide mandatory standards on accessibility in all areas of daily life.

Accessibility Standards
Accessibility standards are the rules that businesses and organizations in Ontario will have to follow to identify, remove and prevent barriers to accessibility.

Accessibility standards will apply to five important areas. Four standards have already been made into law:

  • customer service
  • employment
  • information and communications
  • transportation
  • The fifth standard – built environment – (is being developed)

Accessible Customer Service Act All Ontario Business Must Comply by January 2012
Ontario Government Tools for Accessible Customer Service

Community and Disability Services — Links

Community Employment and Disability Services — Links (MS Word Document)

-- Back to top --