Every January, the president of the United States recognizes January as National Mentoring month. Additionally, “Thank Your Mentor Day” takes place on the third Thursday of the month. In 2016, that will be Jan. 21. You might be asking yourself, what does that have to do with me? Think back. Was there a teacher, a coach, an aunt or an uncle that paid close attention? They were one of your mentors. The word mentor comes from the Greek and means adviser, master, guide or preceptor. One of the things we need to consider when looking at mentors within our community is the link between poverty and the availability of positive mentor relationships.
According to the US Census Bureau, 8.8 percent of all Sheboygan County residents live in poverty. And of those living in poverty, 12.2 percent are children under the age of 18. Research recently released by Mentoring.org stated, “This is the real mentoring gap — our nation’s most vulnerable youth have less access to caring adults outside their families, and fewer opportunities to engage with such adults through academic, community, and extracurricular activities.”
Doesn’t sound fair, does it?
There are programs in the Sheboygan community that are trying to address this gap. One of these programs is Horizons4Girls, which works to reach out to those youth most in need.
Horizons4Girls does not teach and does not preach. Horizons4Girls provides mentoring. Accredited by Mentoring. org, Horizons4Girls provides a listening ear while working to stop at-risk behaviors for students throughout Sheboygan County in middle and high school.
We aim to provide a supportive and structured setting. In both group and individual settings, young women are offered mentoring and study skills/techniques. As family life, peer pressure and educational expectations become more of a challenge for young women, they may be looking for personalized assistance with their studies and life decisions. The opportunity to explore ever-changing career options made available is part of what Horizons4Girls works to do. Giving the young women a variety of speakers, presenters and potential role models helps them to develop their own personal goals.
Based upon experience and research studies, we know that youth mentoring helps adolescents become more successful in life. Mentoring results in an increase in self-confidence, improved grades, social skills, future career opportunities and life in general. Mentoring significantly reduces delinquency incidences, the risk of substance abuse and academic challenges.
All youth deserve access to those caring adults that might make a difference in their lives. Through this mentoring, we hope to light an internal spark that will help our students as they fulfill personal and academic goals. Our students become engaged in planning their future. It happens at Horizons 4Girls: improved school attendance, communication and social skills enhanced, enjoyment doing community service and so much more.
For more information, to make a referral or volunteers visit www.horizons4girls. com or call 920-254-1584.
Char Pachniak is the founder and CEO for Horizons4Girls.