Table Of Contents
It Makes A Difference
Talking To Teens
Putting In The Time
At Risk Youth
What Is A Mentor
Not All Mentoring Is The Same
Mentoring Is Valuable
More On Mentoring
Mentoring Works Saves Money & Lives
In this paper you will be introduced to the principles, the purpose and the value of mentoring teens. In this paper I will share with the reader my own personal stories of how being mentored has helped me to be a more valuable person, how mentoring can make the difference in a young person’s life, how to talk to teens and how to set goals for mentoring.
According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, the word “mentor” means an experienced and trusted adviser.
I have been blessed in my life to have some great advisers; some of them have mentored me up close and others have mentored me from afar.
All of us need good mentors and especially the youth who are facing enormous challenges in our society today. My earliest memory of having a mentor was my uncle JW, that’s what we called him. He was a great man and he was always there to give us advice, sometimes the advice was solicited and at other times, he just thought he should give it.
Whenever we traveled to see him, upon arrival to his residence and no matter how late the hour, I knew that my brother and I would get the extended version of “insights into living” and his experiences in life and how we should live ours.
One my fondest memories of my uncle’s mentoring me was when I wandered into his library and I selected a book from his library entitled “Succeed and Grow Rich Through Persuasion” by famed authors and motivational speakers, Napoleon Hill and author E. Harold Keown.
That book from my uncle’s library and the Bible helped to shape my thinking and mold my life starting at age fifteen when I started reading the Bible from cover to cover and the book I took from my uncle’s library. My Uncle let me have that book and I am forever grateful that he did.
My uncle gave me valuable advice whenever I would visit or when he would visit me all the way through my life until he died a couple of years ago. Between my Father and my favorite uncle, I was mentored and I am a better man than perhaps I would have been absent those critical years of being mentored by both of them.
In this paper I mention my uncle first because he talked to me and advised me intentionally. My Father has been a good mentor as well, but his mentoring me was more of what I would call “silent advising” through lifestyle and work ethic. My Father worked every day and was always a great dresser. There is a cliché that says “more is caught than taught” often what we learn does not always come to us verbally, but many things we learn are learned by being around the people who are responsible for raising us or the people that have dominate influence over our lives. My Fathers mentoring me, although indirect was of great value. I learned how to wash a car, shine shoes, shovel snow and dress nice and many other things.
Another great mentor to me has been the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come (John 16:13 ESV). The Holy Spirit has been a wonderful friend and has given me guidance on numerous occasions in my life and ministry. There might be those who would disagree that the Holy Spirit can be and is a mentor to those who would accept his guidance, leading and advice. I have always viewed and thought of the Holy Spirit as a real person and therefore he can also be an excellent mentor.
Many of teens that live in America and especially black youth do not get what I got with regard to mentoring and it’s is badly needed. However when it comes to black males like me and particularly, black males between the ages of 3 and 21, mentoring is almost non – existent.
A large majority of black youth living in Indianapolis and across America does not live in nuclear families and a great majority of the families are single female head of household.
That is not to say that black youth and particularly black males cannot be successful mentored without a male figure in the home, but it is very helpful and is God’s order, in my opinion, and with regard to mentoring, it works best when each home is a two-parent home.
I hope that this paper will be both informational and inspiring to you the reader and that as a result of you reading this work, you will do your part in mentoring today’s youth.
It Makes A Difference
According to a report released in 2015 by IBE, Mentorship from a caring adult can provide parents and guardians with the partnership they need to put their children on a path to success. It also provides an avenue for those who want to help to make a meaningful difference. “The consistent, enduring presence of a caring adult in a young person’s life can be the difference between staying in school or dropping out, making healthy decisions or engaging in risky behaviors, and realizing one’s potential or failing to achieve one’s dreams (Indiana Black Expo [IBE], 2015, p. 14, 15).”
I have been the leader and President of a Christian school and daycare in our community for a little more than twenty years and I can say emphatically, that our children in the black community do not start out like many of them end up.
All youth need mentoring and care, but in my context, the majority of youth that I have dealt with and or mentored have been black youth, and black youth between the ages of 16 and 25 have been labeled as “at risk youth.”
The report released by the IBE came in response to crime and violence that continues to plague the black community and the community at large. If we are to see changes that will move the needle with regard to driving down crime and ending the violence, there will need to be many more partnerships developed in our communities that make mentoring our youth their number one priority.
Many of our young people do not get the consistent attention that is so gravely needed from adults that can have a positive impact on them. I think that many times we suffer from a kind of a “mentoring inertia” in our communities, thinking and perhaps hoping that someone else will do it. The truth is that we can all mentor the young people that live in our community and make a difference in their lives that will also make a difference in our city.
I have found in my own experience of trying to mentor our youth, I can effectively influence and impact a few at a time. However, the need is extremely greater than I can successfully fulfill on my own.
I have learned recently of a new concept “collective impact models” which is when several people and organizations come together and use their collective recourses both hard and soft resources to impact and solve the problem.
A few years ago I started what I call the “Young Gentleman’s Academy.” It was a mentoring program for black males ages 7 – 12 that would teach them the principles of how to be and act like a gentleman. I had roughly 12 young men in that program and with that number there were numerous challenges I faced trying to make sure that all of the young men would be positively impacted by the model of mentoring I was using.
In the summer of 2012 I decided to enlist the collective services of other pastors in our city to help with mentoring the young people. By this time I had expanded our program to include an employment component that I will cover in another paper.
In 2012 we started out mentoring and employing just 25 youth ages 15 – 19, in 2013 the number increased to 100 teens, in 2014 500 teens and in 2015 we scaled the effort down to 200 teens to make sure that we were not losing our impact and effectiveness.
We mentored the teens from eight o’clock in the morning until nine o’clock in the morning. We then took them out to work and every forty-five minutes we would stop to do more mentoring.
We continue to this day to face challenges that prevent us from reaching and mentoring more youth. The report that I had the esteemed privilege of helping to prepare revealed the following data:
- One in three young people do not have a mentor (34%), and the rates are higher for underdeveloped youth (37%).
- Disconnected youth are more likely to want a mentor (29% of all youth versus 37% of all underdeveloped youth). In fact, the more risk factors a youth has, the more likely they are to say they wished they had a mentor.
- Two-thirds of disconnected youth do not recall having a formal mentor in elementary school (66%), and over half do not recall having one in middle school or high school (57% and 56%, respectively) (IBE, 2015, p. 14).
The data that we were able to gather and present to the Mayor of Indianapolis was profound. The report also indicated the following with regard to youth employment, crime and incarceration:
- Four of five youth who struggle with attendance, behavior, and course performance do not have a structure mentor (80%).
- A young Black boy has a 1 in 3 chance of going to prison in his lifetime compared to 1 in 17 for his white male counterpart.
- Homicides among Black males ages 15-19 years of age represent one of the leading causes of death.
- 59 percent of Black males in their early 30s who dropped out of school had prison records (IBE, 2015, p. 14).
Obviously one of the problems is not much a focus on what is happening and the solutions to those problems, but there needs to be more focus on implementation of the solutions and finding and securing the resources for rapid implementation of the solutions.
The resources in the city of Indianapolis that are needed to solve the mentoring problem are not limited to securing financial resources. Another major resource deficit is having enough mentors to mentor the youth that are waiting to be mentored. According to the IBE report to the Mayor of Indianapolis, one of the largest mentoring organizations in Indianapolis - Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana, has a waiting list that has swelled to 601 youth who are in need of a caring adult to provide mentorship. Sixty-five percent of these youth or boys and 40% are Black boys (IBE, 2015, p. 15). There are more youth that desperately need mentors than we can keep up with and finding qualified mentors and preparing them to do the job is very difficult.
During our summer youth jobs program I have found that one of the biggest problems that we have had is having adults that can properly supervise the youth and mentor them. Many times we have had people with very good intentions, but we had to stop using them because they were not able to make the adjustments necessary in their personality to do the job.
In the years to come we have decided to begin our search for good mentors earlier than we have in past years. We feel the added time to search for good mentors will give us time to properly train them and prepare them for effectively mentoring the youth. We have found that most of our mentor/supervisors have great difficulty talking to the teens and relating to them. The next section will cover how to talk to the youth for maximum results.
Talking To Teens
One might think that police presence would prevent behavioral problems with the teens during such a great program that we created for them to help them. Even with police officers present we had problems with some of teens that stemmed from some of the officers and mentor/supervisors inexperience in talking to the teens.
Of all the ways in which to relate to youth, using humor probably would not make the top five ways to connect with youth list, if such a list existed. In his book “How To Speak To Youth and Keep Them Awake at The Same Time, Ken Davis says, “Humor is a powerful tool to enhance communication, yet when misused it can destroy communication (Davis, 1986, p. 652).” The majority of speakers that we used to talk to the youth during the mentoring times did not use humor to relate to the youth. Many of the youth fell asleep during the mentoring sessions and our team had to constantly monitor them and wake them up.
The three main elements for using humor while talking to teens are surprise, exaggeration, and truth (Davis, 1986, p. 663). All of the elements for using humor while talking to the teens can be extracted from the world around us. In order to perfect the art of using humor while talking to teens, we must prepare ourselves to do it.
I was not prepared when I first started the summer youth jobs program to effectively talk to the teens in a way that would keep them interested in what I was saying to them. I have learned over the past few years doing the program that for all of those who want to be involved in reaching and teaching the teens, they must be properly prepared to do so.
Preparation is personal and requires a commitment on the behalf of the person who desires to be prepared to rise to the opportunity when it comes. Before we ever open our mouths or put a pencil to a piece of paper, our communication potential will be affected by these aspects of our life: Our dedication to the importance of the message, our understanding and commitment to our audience, our confidence that we will be heard, and our own personal growth (Davis, 1986, p. 46). The commitment required to be effective in talking to youth is more than just preparing a few days before it’s time talk to the teens. The preparation required must be something that is committed to several weeks and perhaps several months leading up to the mentoring moment. The teens seem to have a kind of radar in knowing when adults are not prepared to interact with them. I now look for mentor/supervisors that understand the value of being thoroughly prepared before arriving to mentor and supervise the teens. When I started the mentoring program in 2012, I took whoever wanted to work with us and I learned pretty quickly that using adults to talk to teens that are not prepared hinders the work.
Those who want to work with the teens and talk to them must know how important the cause is. The most effective communicators are always those with an important cause in which they believe intensely (Davis, 1986, p. 47). I think we have had more adults that were interested more in getting paid to mentor the teens than they were is the cause behind what we were doing. Taking the time to talk with those who want to work the teens is of great importance and adds value to the overall effectiveness of the work that we do with the teens. The time we spend talking to those that want be mentors and supervisors will also reveal how much they believe in what we are attempting to accomplish. Howard Hendricks once said, “If a person goes into youth work for the money, they probably don’t have the intelligence for the job (Davis, 1986, p. 50-51).” We have had many people that came to help us and it turned out they were only helping us for the money. Those people that were in it just for the money fell off pretty quickly when they had their first encounters with the youth that rubbed them the wrong way. Our workers find out pretty quickly, the ones that stay on and some of the ones that leave; youth work is neither glamorous nor frivolous, but it’s hard work and has many discouraging moments (Davis, 1986, p. 51). I have experienced many discouraging moments myself over the four years that I have been leading the mentoring and youth employment program. It has been the grace of God, assignment and prayer that has kept me going each year that I am involved in the program.
Putting In The Time
I have spent many hours each year working on mentoring programs that benefit the youth in my community. I decided this year, 2016 that I would invest even more time to make sure that the teens get the best mentoring program possible. Mentoring youth effectively cannot be anything that is just thrown together. Mentoring programs that are most effective involve proper planning and preparation in order to insure the success of the overall effectiveness and value of the program.
The very nature of mentoring teens is talking to them and many times the talks are done in a setting where we are talking to many youth at one time. One of the most valuable ingredients of any speech that will be delivered to teens is time (Davis, 1986, p. 330). The time invested into making sure that a speech that will be delivered to teens will pay off in large dividends and if we fail to invest the proper amount of time the results will not be impressive.
At Risk Youth
Nearly all of the teens that participate in our mentoring program are “at risk youth” these are youth between the ages of 16 and 24 that meet various federal guidelines that indicate the teens are at risk for failure, falling into criminal activity and many other negative indicators. Suffice it to say, “at risk youth” are troubled youth. Many people want to mentor, but they are uncomfortable around troubled youth (Gurr, 2011, p. 239). The youth that we mentor during our summer youth jobs and mentoring program are all mostly from “the hood” many of them are dealing with a myriad of personal and family problems and some of them have even had run in’s with the police.
Last year I went to a suburban church just outside of Indianapolis to speak on youth employment and mentoring youth. After the meeting was over, I talked with suburban ladies who said they want to help supervise the teens during the summer. I told them about what kind of youth they would encounter and I asked them if they thought they were up for the challenge. They both said they believe they can handle it and I hope that they will be able to. I have had many people work with our program who thought they were ready to deal with the teens to find out that it was more than they could handle for more than a couple of weeks. I hope to be able to properly prepare all of the adults that want to help mentor and supervise the teens this summer through early training classes on how to deal with and talk to today’s teens.
What Is A Mentor
Being a mentor to teens is more than just spending time with them. Being a mentor to teens requires patience, commitment and understanding. A mentor is a loyal advisor, a teacher or coach, sponsor, guide, confidante and role model (Gurr, 2011, p. 68). There are many adults who are mentors and do not really know that they are mentors. While not every adult who wants to be a mentor is cut out for being one, almost every adult can be trained how to mentor teens to one degree or another. The mentor is also a concerned individual (other than a parent) who is an advocate for the needs of someone else; a special friend (Gurr, 2011, p. 68-69). Mentoring relationships take time to build and can be the difference between a young teen’s success and failure in life.
Many people confuse tutoring with mentoring; tutoring involves the teaching of a skill or discipline and is not based on a personal relationship between the person doing the tutoring and the youth being tutored (Gurr, 2011, p. 69-70). I have found that there are people old and young who make good tutors, but would not make good mentors. I have found that people in general must be taught how to properly function in relationships and that relationships are not always easy to develop. Since the foundation of effective mentoring relies heavily upon developing healthy relationships between mentor and mentee, much thought and effort as well as training should go into making sure that adults who desire to be mentors understand the difference between being a tutor and a mentor and what it take to be an effective mentor.
I have been blessed to be a mentee and a mentor and therefore I understand the value of developing a relationship with someone and the value of having someone mentor me. Mentors set an example for us and motivate us to try harder; they give us confidence to reach for more ambitious goals and they teach us how to make good choices (Gurr, 2011, p. 78). Bishop Tom Benjamin was a surprise mentor that God brought into my life a few years ago. I believe that God’s hand should be involved in connecting mentors to mentees. Bishop Benjamin is a big part of the reason I went back to school to seek masters in divinity. I would not have made such a choice on my own, but my mentor helped me to make the choice and the choice was a good one.
According to Gurr, the mentor’s key role is to listen; most kids need reliable adults with whom they can talk about their fears, dreams, and concerns. Mentor’s serve as sounding boards, and when asked, someone who can give trustworthy advice (Gurr, 2011, p. 90). Reliability is a key requirement in being an effective mentor. Many adults start out with good intentions about mentoring teens, but fall off after just a few weeks. Teens like small children get attached very quickly and when the attachment is severed it is very difficult for them to reattach to a new mentor. Adults who desire to be mentors should think very deeply about the responsibility of mentoring before trying to become one.
Not All Mentoring Is The Same
Mentoring is a valuable tool that can truly enhance the lives of teens being mentored. There are a number of different kinds of mentoring; when making a decision about what type of mentor you want to be, the first thing you should consider is the length of time that you have available to commit (Gurr, 2011, p. 94). Remember what I said about reliability; no matter how much you want to be a mentor, if you do not have the time then you won’t have the time to make the commitment. If you are too busy or have an erratic schedule, then a short-term commitment is the best (Gurr, 2011, p. 94). The longer you can mentor a teen the more beneficial it will be for them and you. According to Gurr here are different types of mentoring: 1. One-on-One Mentoring where you are paired up with one child. 2. Group Mentoring where one adult builds relationships with a number of young people and 3. Team Mentoring where a group of two or more adults can work together as a team to mentor a group of teens (Gurr, 2011, p. 111). There are benefits and disadvantages to each one of the aforementioned types of mentoring. It is worth taking the time to discover which type of mentoring works best for you with the time you have available.
The mentor’s role is not to replace the parent or guardian; you are there to be an additional guide to your mentee (Gurr, 2011, p. 150). This is very important to understand because teens sometimes get attached to their mentor and it is not unusual for the teens to like the mentor a little more than their own parents or guardians. It is incumbent on the mentee to make sure the teen knows that he or she values the mentor mentee relationship, but the teen’s family is always first in their lives. Mentors are not disciplinarians; you signed on to be a friend, teacher and guide (Gurr, 2011, p. 150).
Mentoring Is Valuable
Mentors can help create a change in the negative cycle of abuse that has afflicted generations of children; many at-risk and high-risk teens are parents themselves (Gurr, 2011, p. 163). One of the values of teens having a good mentor is they can learn how to a good parent to their own children by the way they are treated by their mentor. If their mentor loves them and values them, it is likely the children of the mentee will get the overflowing benefit of how to transfer that love to their own children. Another benefit and value of mentoring is that as you mentor, you will also grow and develop on both a personal and professional level; you will enhance your own self-esteem and confidence as you see the effects of your guidance on the kids you mentor (Gurr, 2011, p. 167). In my own experience I have been very blessed to mentor many youth in more of a group setting than one-on-one mentoring. I have provided valuable guidance to teens that have returned to our mentoring program each year to tell me how much they appreciate and have benefitted from the mentoring they have received. We are in our fifth year of mentoring and providing summer employment for teens in the Indianapolis area and God continues to help widen the net to bring in more teens that desperately need mentors they can benefit from.
Being a mentor gives you a chance to contribute to society in a very special way. By getting involved as a mentor to help at-risk and high-risk youth, you’ll be giving back to your community in many ways that will have a lasting and positive impact (Gurr, 2011, p. 169). I have had days when I wondered why I became a mentor, but I have had more day’s that I was very glad that I served God by serving His people by spending time with and being a mentor to the kids that it most. Most mentors discover that after volunteering to be a mentor, they are more patient, open-minded and better prepared to deal with challenges than before they became a mentor. At-risk teens are the future of our society and it is imperative that we take the time and invest the time required in mentoring them and help to prepare them to lead our society.
According to Gurr half of our youth population (17.6 million kids) is considered to be “at-risk” or “high-risk.” While this terminology is often interchanged, at-risk youth are generally those youth who are economically disadvantaged with the strong potential to get into trouble, but their basically doing okay. High-risk youth are kids who are already experiencing difficulties, like drug or alcohol abuse, they are the child of a substance abuser, they are the victim of physical, or sexual abuse, they have become pregnant or have attempted suicide (Gurr, 2011, p. 180). I am concerned that the number of teens that fit into the category of “at-risk” is growing at an exponential rate. While there are various reasons why the numbers are growing, much of the reason is because of the need for more qualified mentors and mentoring programs.
The question has been asked; can a mentor and a mentee have different economic, cultural, racial and ethnic backgrounds and succeed? Although research shows that shared interest are an important component of successful mentoring relations, research also suggest that successful relationships can and do form when the mentor and mentee come from different backgrounds (Manza & Patrick, 2012, p. 576). This is great because if the availability of qualified mentors were restricted to same race, culture and background, there would be even a greater chance the need for more mentors would not be fulfilled. Within my own context, it will be interesting to see how things go with the new mentor’s that will be joining our mentoring program this year who are from different backgrounds than the teens they will be working with for the summer 2016.
The success of mentoring teens with mentor’s from different backgrounds will depend on the ability of the mentor’s to set aside any preconceived notions and judgments they might have and embrace and learn from their mentee’s culture, and be a guide to help their mentee build bridges between his world, their own world and the larger world around the both of them (Manza & Patrick, 2012, p. 580). There are many teens in our mentoring program that do not have any connections to the larger world around them and therefore are left to go along with whatever they hear others saying about other cultures and the things that are happening in the world around them. Having mentors from different backgrounds will be extremely valuable in helping to bring our communities closer together and solve some of the problems that continue to keep us divided.
More On Mentoring
Mentoring… I think about it as a great opportunity to be an integral part of a young person’s success (Michelle Obama, First Lady Of The United States). I would like to think that over the last several years through our mentoring and employment program at the Fervent Prayer Church, we have been a part of the success of hundreds of young people and we are on course of being part of the success of thousands of more young people in our city and across the nation.
Mentoring is an ancient form of social interaction that has modern applications, one of which is youth mentoring and more particularly the mentoring of teens (Manza & Patrick, 2012, p. 152). All youth need to be mentored, but I think the most neglected of all youth age groups would be the teens. Younger kids generally get guidance and instruction from their parents and or guardians. Teen youth are typically in some kind of opposition with their parents during their teen years are left without positive guidance and relationship from an older adult. I have observed in Indianapolis teens being mentored by the criminal class, by men and or women who have been in and out of the court system and jails. This problem is growing in the black community and it is becoming more dangerous and fatal each year. The need for mentors among black youth and especially black youth in urban areas has reached, what I call, “critical mass.”
Mentors, through their guidance and instruction given to the mentee are involved in helping to shape how the mentee thinks and processes information. Therefore it is of critical importance that we make sure the teens in urban areas are getting the proper mentorship.
Mentoring does not only involve being a friend to the mentee but it also involves holding the teen accountable for his or actions and behaviors. The mentor must be a friendly adviser and thoughtful teacher who know when to challenge the mentee, when to help, and when to let go (Manza & Patrick, 2012, p. 163). Mentors may not be aware that there are times when the best thing to do for the mentee is to let go sometimes. Letting go does not mean goodbye, but may mean that there is an area in the mentee’s life that he or she does not want the mentor to have access to or want advice concerning and the mentor should back off and wait for another opportunity.
Mentoring Works Saves Money & Lives
According the “Your Life Matters” report prepared by IBE in 2015 for Mayor Ballard, the examination of juvenile incarceration rates among Black males and the costs of community-based programs, research strongly suggests that mentoring is one of the most cost effective interventions for youth. The results from the report, although specifically providing results with regard to black males, can also be applied to all other ethnic groups.
The “Your Life Matters” report also indicated that depending on the nature of the program, mentoring programs’ estimated costs range from $1000 to $1500 a year per mentor; these costs are much lower than intensive remedial programming and more comprehensive service programs. Further, the annual costs for mentoring are considerably lower than the cost of incarcerating one juvenile for a year. Based on data from the Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention, the average amount of money it takes to incarcerate a youth for one year is $43,000 with low-end programs at approximately $23,000 and high-end detention programs costs approximately $64,000. Spending and investing the money on the front end through mentoring programs does not only save money, but also saves lives which is always more imortant than saving money.
At this point I would consider myself a good mentor. But what makes a good mentor these days? You don’t need a diploma or certificate to mentor, there is no way to judge whether someone is cut out to be a mentor (Gurr, 2011, p. 154). I have had numerous people sign up to be mentor/supervisors over the years in our summer jobs program, the majority had no mentoring experience, but turned out to be good mentors. The most important thing is that you care about helping a needy child or a group of kids, and that you engage in a positive relationship with your mentee(s)(Gurr, 2011, p. 154).
The most essential trait needed to be a good mentor is dependability, which means showing up regulalry as shceduled and being on time for the progrm (Gurr, 2011, p. 156). I have always held that being effective with communty work is about 80% showing up and showing up always goes a long way with the teens. Many teens and youth in general do not feel or think that adults care about them. At-risk and high-risk youth are often lest ro themselves and often do not get much attention from their parents or guardians. When teens see that there are adults that care about them and that are willing to consistently show up for them, they are encouraged and are less likely to get into trouble because they do not want to disaapoint their mentor.
It is also important that the mentor be somewhat demanding of the mentee’s, moat children like to be challenged and it inspires them to work harder (Gurr, 2011, p. 159). Teens that are new to the mentoring process need time to get adjusted to being loved and to being hel accountable. The mentor’s first responsibilty is not to be the teen’s friend as this could limit the effectiveness of the realtionship. If the mentor’s goal is to be the teen’s friend, it is likely that at some point when the mentee needs discipline, the mentor may be unable to provide it.
Today teens seem to be able to sense when they can run over or take advantage of their mentor. The mentor needs to be able to learn the balance that is required to be what their mentee’s need with regard to guidnace and discipline. If the mentor sticks to the commitment that mentoring requires he or she will be able to help many teens. A good mentor realizes that each mentee has his or her own strengths and weaknesses and with this in mind will be able to help their mentee’s set high standards (Gurr, 2011, p. 160). The standards that teens set for themselves these days is not high enough and there are not enough people challenging them to reach higher and to be all that God intended for them to be. A good mentor will be able to help the mentee to push beyound the boundaries of their own limitations to achieve great things.
When we started our youth jobs and mentoring program for teens in Indianapolis, we started at the community center and as we grew we moved the program to my church. Churches, temples, mosques and other places of worship are excellent places to mentor (Gurr, 2011, p. 243). I am a Christian, but I am not opposed to other faith based organizations that may not share my Christian beliefs. There are thousands of youth that I may not be able to reach because of my location or perhaps some youth may not like the Christian church or there might be teens that are Muslim who would not be comfortable being in the program at my church. The most important thing is that every teen in the community has a safe place that he or she can go to be mentored.
Another group of youth who need mentors are those who are sick and in hospitals, hospices or bedridden at home (Gurr, 2011, p. 244). We sometimes forget about the youth we cannot see because they are sick and shut in. According to Gurr, there are 3 million children hospitalized in the U.S each year; these kids not only suffer from physical ailments that create pain, but their illnesses can also be emotionally detrimental. It is not always easy to think about mentoring services for the teens that we cannot see or know about, but now that we are aware of the fact that there are teens that cannot get out to be seen, we can go to where they are and provide guidance and encouragement for them to.
Mentoring and continued mentoring programs are very important! Evaluations of mentoring programs across the country demonstrate the importance of a mentor in helping young people make positive changes in their lives (Miller, 2006, p. 3). Positive changes and making them is not easy for most teens in our society today because they are constantly bombarded with negative images and information. The mentor can help to guide the mentee through the maze of madness that is being seen all over the country and help the teens to stay out of trouble and help to keep them on a path to peace and personal success.
The goals of mentoring are to assist a youth in increasing positive behaviors and decreasing self-destructive behaviors (Miller, 2006, p. 4). If every adult would take the time and take the time out to learn how to be a mentor and especially help to provide mentoring services for “at risk”, “high-risk” teens, I think that we would see a major shift in our communities, I think we would see an increased number of successful teens, I think that we would see an increase in college enrollment and more teens with consistent employment.
An effective mentor is a person who practices the principles of empowerment and should set goals in being able to help teens develop intellectually, socially, emotionally, morally and physically (Miller, 2006, p. 6). Thanks to my Father, my Uncle and the Holy Spirit and other mentors that God has sent my way, I have been able to develop into a person that is helping teens in the way that I was helped as a teen. I understand the importance of the early years of growth and development for teens and the early years will have a bearing on how teens turn out in the latter years of their lives. Let’s get busy and step up to the plate and let’s do some mentoring!
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