Youth Focus

Youth Focus
Share what you know. Mentor a child.

Monday, Feb. 6 is the Mentorship Buzz Session at the Clay County 4-H Center in Vermillion starting at 5:45 p.m. and ending at 7:30 p.m. for adults interested in mentoring youth. Bring your supper and go home with information on topics such as Role of the Mentor, Sensitivity Training, Group Building and Tying It All Together. Call local extension offices for more information on attending the Mentorship Buzz Sessions.

My colleague, Amber Lounsbery, Youth Develop-ment/4-H Extension Educator, is a speaker at the Mentorship Buzz session and she submitted the following article that I thought you might find helpful.

What do these famous sports pairings have in common: Phil Jackson (NBA coach) to Michael Jordan, Mark McGwire (All-Star player) to Jason Giambi (baseball infielder), Pam Shriver to Venus Williams, and Emmitt Smith (NFL career rushing leader) to LaDainian Tomlinson (NFL Pro Bowl running back)?

They were all mentor/ mentee relationships. Mentoring doesn't just happen in the sports arena, but all over the world. Research has shown that introducing a mentor into a young person's life can play a powerful role in preventing drug abuse and youth violence, while greatly enhancing a young person's prospects for leading a healthy and productive life.

Here is how Merriam-Webster defines it: men?tor: 1 capitalized: a friend of Odysseus entrusted with the education of Odysseus' son Telemachus; 2a: a trusted counselor or guide b: TUTOR, COACH.

The mythical Odysseus recognized what modern research continues to prove. A mentor can model a powerful, life-changing influence on a child or young adult. A mentor � just like a parent, caregiver, teacher, coach, youth worker, neighbor, or any other person in a child or youth's daily life � can broaden a young person's horizons and boost their self-confidence.

Research also shows that a caring mentor can increase the likelihood that a young person will attend school regularly, perform well academically, and make healthy life choices rather than engage in self-destructive, risk-taking, or violent behavior. And a sustained mentoring relationship, through which a young person experiences support, guidance, and connectedness, can also help that young person improve relationships with his or her peers, caregivers, and other members of the community. (Making a Difference, 2000) An ideal mentor is someone who has consistency in their life, a nonjudgmental attitude and life experiences that help them relate to potential mentees.

Who mentored you? Think about individuals in your own life who offered you encouragement, shared their experiences and knowledge, and sometimes just listened when you needed to talk. Do they know what a lasting difference they made? Thank them, and pass it on ? mentor a child!

Call your local Extension for more information.

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