When caring adult mentors take the time to have authentic conversations with youth to understand their passions, interests, and ambitions – it can make a critical difference. According to MENTOR, young people who meet regularly with a mentor are 55 percent more likely to enroll in college, 78 percent more likely to volunteer regularly and 130 percent more likely to hold leadership positions. “Mentors are champions for our youth,” said Valerie Killebrew, senior director of youth development programs at Boys & Girls Clubs of America. “The guidance, encouragement, and positive experiences they provide inspire confidence in our young people and enable them to build a strong foundation for a healthy, productive life.” Mentorship relationships aren’t just beneficial for young people. Mentors can expand their personal and professional networks through mentoring and experience satisfaction and joy from helping youth thrive. Here are five ways you can support positive youth development as a mentor:
1. Commit: Contact your local Club to find out their requirements for mentors. Making meaningful connections with young people takes time, and it’s important that you show up regularly and model safe, healthy positive attitudes and behaviors.
2. Listen: Listen carefully to what mentees want to share and withhold judgment or critique. Effective mentors help mentees feel respected and heard by creating a safe and positive environment.
3. Have fun!: Pick fun activities to engage your mentees, like foursquare or a game of chess. When mentors and mentees share experiences, they develop a stronger, more impactful positive relationship.
4. Connect to new opportunities: Introduce your mentee to new opportunities, such as arranging for an employer or college visit or hosting a workshop on a topic of interest to youth. Through these avenues and others, mentors can help mentees have a deeper understanding of their interests, passions and understand expectations that might apply in different areas of their life.
5. Support and empower: Acknowledge your mentee’s accomplishments. In order for recognition to contribute most to a young person’s self-esteem and self-worth, it should be specific and intentional. This shows the young person their actions were noticed and appreciated by a caring adult, which can make a lasting impression.
Be a champion for youth and #InvestInKids by becoming a mentor. Mentoring relationships are powerful tools for connection and are critical to our country's future. Find a Club near you to get involved: https://www.greatfutures.club/clubhouses