5 Replies Latest reply on Jul 28, 2011 10:41 PM by lizzo

    Youth mentoring

    lizzo
      I've been involved with a youth mentoring program at a local grade school since last Fall. I meet weekly with a 5th grader who has applied for and been accepted into this program. I give him my undivided attention for one hour per week. We play board games, bake cookies, shoot some hoops, take a walk and talk, or whatever he wants to do. I am pretty sure most communities have these kinds of adult/student programs which have been shown to be effective in preventing or minimizing drug and alcohol-related problems in high school. The parents and teachers fully support the program and it a great way for retirees to give back to their communities and invest in the future.

      Here's a link with some excellent information about the mentoring program:

      http://www2.cssu.org/20102089153956640/site/default.asp?

      I'd be happy to answer any questions.
        • Re: Youth mentoring
          TroutBum
          While my kids were growing up I was involved in many youth oriented things; baseball, basketball, church work camps, youth fishing tournaments, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, group rafting trips, etc. They all seemed successful and were met with enthusiasm from the kids. More recently, however, I've found myself wondering if kids really want to find themselves hanging out with a gray haired old man. It seems like I might be more valuable in behind-the-scenes type things than the fun part of working directly with the kids. Just wondering what your thoughts are about that?
            • Re: Youth mentoring
              JerryD
              TroutBum, did you ever consider with today's disrupted families that many of these youths don't know or see their grandparents much if at all. Maybe your older, calmer, wiser presence is exactly what they are craving.
              • Re: Youth mentoring
                lizzo
                TroutBum said...
                While my kids were growing up I was involved in many youth oriented things; baseball, basketball, church work camps, youth fishing tournaments, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, group rafting trips, etc. They all seemed successful and were met with enthusiasm from the kids. More recently, however, I've found myself wondering if kids really want to find themselves hanging out with a gray haired old man. It seems like I might be more valuable in behind-the-scenes type things than the fun part of working directly with the kids. Just wondering what your thoughts are about that?
                Sorry for the delayed response but I have been traveling to see grandchildren in Indiana and North Carolina.
                 
                You raise a good question, one that I had before entering the program. Here are my thoughts:
                 
                After having spent one school year in this grade 5-8 program, I have concluded that the relationship is not for the purpose of replacing a missing parent or grandparent, but it's in addition to the child's family. My mentee knows that when he meets with me, there are no performance or behavior expectations. I am not there to correct him or teach him; I am simply there to be with him, to have fun, laugh, and he knows he is the 100% focus of my time and attention. What we do during the hour is up to him. If he wants to bake cookies, fine; if he wants to play a board game, fine; if he wants to talk, fine. If he wants to play basketball, fine. There is no pressure on either of us and that, I think, is what makes the time so valuable. We've simply become friends.
                 
                As an aside, but an important one; research in this program shows that the children with mentors in grades 5-8 have a much lower rate of alcohol and drug abuse in high school.

                Hope that helps.
                  • Re: Youth mentoring
                    TroutBum
                    lizzo and jerry,
                    Thanks for the comments. I'm not questioning the value of mentoring youth. It's just that I've watched the way kids are drawn to young adults - the kind who are able to get out on a basketball court and mix it up with the kids - and I wonder if some of that connection is lost with older mentors. Of course not all kids are alike and some would definitely benefit from a grandfatherly type figure. But overall it seems to me that an old guy like me might be more valuable behind the stage providing assistance in organizing, fund-raising, number crunching or whatever mundane roles might be needed.
                    Just thinking out loud; I would much prefer to take a kid fishing than to review insurance policies or administer a budget!