As we begin a new year, many of us think about how we can better ourselves and our community. What if I told you there’s one thing you can do that accomplishes both of those goals?
Studies show we better ourselves, children and the community we live in by becoming mentors. Since January is National Mentoring Month, here are some facts and figures that demonstrate the amazing effects of mentoring on everyone involved.
According to the Mentor Colorado Web site: “Mentoring is a development strategy for a child or youth’s successful path to adulthood. In a structured mentoring program, a supportive individual works with a youth to build a relationship by offering guidance, support and encouragement to cultivate the youth’s positive and healthy development. Often, mentoring programs are designed around specific goals, such as academic achievement, career preparation and behavior modification. It is widely accepted that youth, especially those perceived to be at risk, benefit significantly by having a mentor in their lives. Mentors provide youth with the confidence, resources, continuity and support they need to achieve their potential.”
At Mesa County Partners, our program adheres to the Partners Mentoring Association accreditation standards. These standards include an expectation partners spend an average of three hours a week together. In addition, PMA standards require partnerships last for a minimum of one year. During the year, Mesa County Partners offers many activities that provide the framework to fulfill requirements. Some of last year’s activities included Spin City night, mountain biking, an outdoor camping experience and ice skating. Case managers provide support, guidance and ideas to help senior partners provide quality mentoring.
If you’re contemplating becoming a mentor, consider the facts:
- Research shows mentoring has significant positive effects on early warning indicators a student could be falling off track, including high levels of absenteeism. Students who meet regularly with mentors are 52 percent less likely than their peers to skip a day of school and 37 percent less likely to skip a class. Young adults who face an opportunity gap but have a mentor are 55 percent more likely to be enrolled in college than those who didn’t have a mentor. Mentored youth also maintain better attitudes toward school.
- Youth who meet regularly with mentors are 46 percent less likely than their peers to start using illegal drugs and 27 percent less likely to start drinking. Young adults who face an opportunity gap but have a mentor are 81 percent more likely to participate regularly in sports or extracurricular activities than those who don’t.
- A study showed the strongest benefit from mentoring and most consistent across risk groups was a reduction in depressive symptoms — particularly noteworthy given that almost one in four youth reported worrisome levels of these symptoms at baseline.
- Mentoring promotes positive social attitudes and relationships. Mentored youth tend to trust their parents more and communicate better with them.
As you can see, the data provides proof mentoring works. In the words of Brad Strong, executive director of Mentor Colorado: “I am constantly amazed how often relationships are at the core of interventions that work. It isn’t programs, facilities, equipment or curriculum that are the key to positive youth development — it’s people. We just need more of them. Mentoring programs like Mesa County Partners provide the perfect opportunity for people to get directly involved and have fun while doing it.”
Won’t you join us in 2016 and become a mentor? You’ll be rewarded many times over and our community will be better because of it.