Relationships matter. A powerful, positive mentoring relationship can change lives.
It can change yours.
Mentoring is one of the most significant ways that you can impact a young person’s life. Child Psychiatrist, James Comer, at the Yale University School of Medicine’s Child Study Center says “No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship.”
Yet 1 in 3 young people will grow up without having a mentor.
These youth, not matched through a formal mentoring program or informally through a family friend or community member, remain disconnected from critical resources that can help them navigate childhood and adolescence.
What makes a good mentor?
Most of us can identify at least one caring adult who made a positive difference in our life. This could have been a teacher, coach, supervisor, spiritual leader, or neighbor. These people served as a role model, an advocate, or a friend. They modeled the basic qualities of a mentor, whether formal or informal, which include:
- A sincere desire to learn from and share with a young person
- Respect for young people
- Active listening skills
- Ability to see solutions and opportunities
Often, we think that mentoring relationships only produce benefits for the mentee. While the young person receives many benefits from the relationship, we often hear from mentors that the rewards they gain from the relationship are as substantial as those for their mentees.
Being a mentor has allowed them to:
- Have fun
- Learn more about them
- Improve their own values and self-esteem
- Gain a better understanding of other cultures and develop a greater appreciation for diversity
- Feel more satisfied and productive and have a better attitude at work
Relationships matter. Making a connection with a young person in your community has the potential to change not only their life, but yours as well. Lean in, become a mentor!
Thank you! You have made a wonderful and very important decision in choosing to become a mentor. If you’ve reached this conclusion, you’ve done your homework. Before you start to look at the programs that are available, think about and identify your own interests and needs. Finding a mentoring program you’re excited about and comfortable with can require some time and thought, but the good news is that there’s something for everyone. The following steps will help walk you through the process of choosing a mentoring program that is right for you. To help you decide which type of mentoring program you want, ask yourself the following questions:
- What time commitment can I make?
- What age of youth would I like to work with?
- Would I like to work with one child or with a group of children?
- Would I like to team with other adults to mentor a child or a group of children?
- What types of activities interest me? Do I want to help a youth learn a specific skill, pursue an interest, help with schoolwork, or just be a caring adult friend?
- What mentoring location would I prefer?
While thinking about these questions, remember to be open and flexible to all the different mentoring programs and focus areas that are out there. Once you’ve thought through some of these questions, you’re ready to start looking at programs! Search for an opportunity near you!