Editorial: Change a child’s life; be a mentor

Published 9:10 am Friday, January 20, 2017

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Every year in January during National Mentoring Month, we like to remind people of the scores of opportunities available to be a mentor.

According to Mentor: The National Mentoring Partnership, one in three young people will grow up without a mentor. Mentoring helps young people know that there is someone who cares about them and assures them that they are not alone in dealing with day-to-day challenges.

The organization states students who meet regularly with their mentors are 52 percent less likely than their peers to skip a day of school and 37 percent less likely to skip a class. They are also likely to have a better attitude about school.

Youth who meet regularly with their mentors are 46 percent less likely than their peers to start using illegal drugs and 27 percent less likely to start drinking, according to the mentoring partnership.

These are only some of the benefits of mentoring.

If people want to get involved as a mentor, there are many ways they can give back to the youth in the community — whether its through a church youth group, an extracurricular or sporting program or other organizations such as the STARS Mentoring program.

The STARS program provides adult mentors to children ages 7 to 17 in Freeborn County and eastern Faribault County. It works with Albert Lea, Alden-Conger, Glenville-Emmons and United South Central to refer students to the program.

As of earlier this week, there were 20 students in the program and 17 mentors in the Albert Lea area.

Mentors must be at least 18 years old, pass a background check, have three references and submit an application. Mentors are interviewed and matched with children.

Mentoring does take time and thought, but we think you will find that being a mentor has as many benefits as the child being mentored.