Mentoring for our kids’ futures
An extraordinary amount of research and scholarly activity has been invested in exploring the best methods for improving school performance and reversing the negative behavior patterns of childhood.
Whole careers and scores of books have been devoted to inspiring, motivating and leading children and teens down the path to success and happiness. We all know there isn’t a single solution to that challenge, but if you deconstruct the array of obstacles blocking the way to academic success and the achievement of personal peace and happiness, for many – if not most – kids, there is one obvious common denominator – the absence of an adult figure to provide regular, personal support and guidance.
In short, a mentor.
Review the life stories of kids who have struggled and stumbled their way through adolescence without an engaged and caring adult, and compare those stories with kids who have been mentored, and the difference is striking.
There isn’t a cookie-cutter model for the mentoring experience, but mentors routinely help kids with homework and study habits, teach them new skills and show them how to navigate the rocky shoals of teendom while developing self-confidence, self-esteem and personal achievement. In an ideal world, those are roles parents would play. In the real world, they don’t. And a staggering number of kids have just one parent, or no parent, to help guide them.
There is a world of statistical evidence to support the value of mentoring. The National Mentoring Partnership reports that students who meet regularly with mentors are 52 percent less likely than their peers to skip a day of school, 46 percent less likely to use drugs and 50 percent less likely to drop out of school.
Of all the investments we could make to ensure a future for the kids of our community, mentoring could well be the most effective and the least expensive.
January is National Mentoring Month and the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance is ramping up its annual campaign to swell the ranks of mentors to match all the kids who need mentoring. There are about 450 mentors right now, and that’s not nearly enough. You can learn more by attending the annual Mentor Recruitment Reception on Wednesday, Jan. 30 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at MacArthur Place. There’s no obligation, no one will twist your arm (off), but you may find a cause in which you can invest a little time and all of your heart.
Running for John
Speaking of heart, the second annual John’s March Against Stomach Cancer will be held at Sonoma Raceway on Saturday, led by gastric cancer survivor and universal inspiration John Cardinale. Participants will meet at 10 a.m. to circulate the raceway’s 2.52-mile road course with John, and are asked to make a minimum donation of $40 to fight stomach cancer. It’s a great cause.