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Not Without You

It is time to MAD. If you never thought you could make a difference, never thought you could change the world, never thought you could be a hero…you were not looking in the right place. It is right here and right now.

3 million vs. 15 million

The smaller number represents children with a mentor. The larger number represents the children without one. One child in six has someone to turn to when they are unsure which way to go. They have someone who can answer their questions, teach them skills not learned in school, help them cope with issues at home…someone to count on when it seems like there is no one else.

Five out of Six

…do not. These five children are at risk. How much risk? What kind of risk?

73%

They are more than 73% more likely to use alcohol before age 18.

63%

These children are 63% more likely to skip out on a class.

55%

They are almost 55% more likely to use illegal drugs.

48%

Nearly half of them of them will skip a full day of school before they graduate or drop out.

What to do…

Mentors help children successfully become adults by developing their self-confidence, teaching them relationship and communication skills, coaching teamwork skills and developing positive attitudes for school. Think that is a tall order? Look at it another way.

1 in 3

One-third of all public school students will not graduate high school. Most of the reasons preventing them from graduating could have been avoided with a positive adult influence in their lives to augment parental guidance.

70%

Almost 70% of metropolitan fourth-graders are unable to read at the most basic level. This could be eradicated with one person reading with them as little as one hour per week.

Have to Make It

Getting out of high school is important. Getting to high school is even more important.

3 million

Tweens and early teens are at high risk for suicide. More than 35% of them will attempt it. Need some help with the math?

Today, tomorrow, next Wednesday, three weeks from yesterday and on November 4th,

2,700

of them will attempt to commit suicide. A large portion of them will be successful. Suicide kills more children under the age of 15 than homicide.

Who is at risk?

Girls attempt suicide four times more often than boys. Boys are more successful. Four boys will die by suicide to each girl.

Children attempt suicide because they feel like there is no one to turn to when things get too difficult for them to handle because they do not have the skills to navigate social situations and school.

Make a Difference

You MAD.

1. Find a local mentoring program.

Type your metropolitan area and “mentoring program” into your search engine. Visit their website. If there is an application online, fill it out. If not, email asking for an application and supply your name, address and telephone number.

2. Ask for an appointment.

Most mentoring programs pair children to adults based on the application. Set an appointment to come in and talk to someone about what programs are available. You can use these programs to join team activities with your mentee. See what resources are available to you at the center, including:

  • Art supplies
  • Musical instruments
  • Academic books and tools
  • Recreational books
  • Sports equipment

3. Create your own.

Do you have children? Know a neighbor with a child? Have friends with children? Host a child exchange. Trade your children for someone else’s children. Borrow a neighbor’s child.

4. Once a week.

Every week, spend at least one to three hours with your mentee. Do everyday activities. Teach the child something. Try any of these activities:

  • Play a sport.
  • Grow something.
  • Read a book aloud.
  • Learn a computer program.
  • Operate laundry machines.
  • Help with homework.
  • Write letters, thank you notes or stories.
  • Teach table manners and etiquette.
  • Play with animals.
  • Do chores.
  • Visit the elderly.
  • Learn the history of your country or town.
  • Eat healthy food.
  • Talk.

Simple conversation is a rare commodity. Speak to a child as the person they are. Listen respectfully.

5. Set goals.

Make goals with your mentee. When you both reach them, celebrate the success and share the excitement by making the new goals! Teaching a child how to set and achieve goals plants the seeds of success.

MAD

Children are our future. They are the ones who will be caring for us in our sunset years. They will be the governments which oversee the world in just a few years. They are the next generation of stewards of the Earth. One day, they will raise children of their own.

Anyone can be a mentor.

Give a child a fighting chance. Children are capable of just as much as any other person. With the proper foundation and some encouragement, there is nothing beyond their grasp. With the basic building blocks of knowledge and the skills to make good decisions, children become responsible adults.

Take some time to make a friend. Listen. Answer questions. Be there. You can change the world by making a difference in one child’s life.

Everyone has something to offer a child. You do not need specialized training. The most important talent a mentor has is caring. Open your heart and mind to a child.

~~~~~~~~~~


Have you ever been a mentor? Which person in your childhood made the difference? Will you take the challenge to Make A Difference in a child’s life by becoming a mentor? Name what one thing you could share with a child you think would MAD the most.

(c) Red Dwyer 2012
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44 Comments

  1. I did some Reading Buddies thing many years ago with a reluctant reader. I probably put him off reading for life!
    Binky recently posted..Life of Fun and GamesMy Profile

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  2. The statistics are horrifying. I think it is easy enough to see the outcome, with more children going to jail at younger age in part due to the lack of adult support, heroes at home we are creating generations of lost. I have been witness to this at a very personal level. Our prisons are filled with the result, generations sharing the yard.

    We should all be furious. You are right Red, we could all be doing something to change this, something small with something that is free, our time. I use to mentor at a local school, after the shooting I quit. Part of my quitting was time, part I don’t know maybe fear. I have never really looked closely.

    Maybe it is time to look again.
    Valentine Logar recently posted..Chaining the PastMy Profile

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    • I cannot imagine how anyone could hoard their time so badly to not open up to someone in need for a measly couple hours per week. People waste more time looking at the boob box and idiotic Internet news than that. Since it does not take an organized effort, it can be something as simple as talking to children in your own family, I cannot get there from here.

      Reply
  3. Those numbers have me stunned…

    Kids are such sponges. They suck up whatever they are around the most and it’s obvious in their speech and actions.

    My grandson and I have had our most precious times just walking together and talking. We talk about any subject that comes up. I’m not sure which one of us gets more out of it. I think it might be pretty close to equal!
    Tcub recently posted..HomecomingMy Profile

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    • It is very true, T. Children help us look at ourselves differently. (But you know I wrote that in my book. ;) ) I am really glad you are spending a good deal of time with your grandson. All children need the extra adult input so they know how their parents do it is not the only way. It helps them be more tolerant as they grow up. xxx

      Reply
  4. This one is difficult for me to comment on. I’ll just say that kids need good adults in their lives early on, and that mentoring a tween or teen can make a big difference in their lives.

    MJ
    MJ Logan recently posted..Merry Go RoundMy Profile

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  5. I was one of the 73%, 63%, 48%.
    Where do you get your stats from though, Red? Just asking – curious.

    This is all so horrific. I can easily imagine reading aloud to children, would love to. But if it needs to be in school hours, I’ll have to wait until I leave f/time work. Or maybe after raising Daniel I could go down to 4 days/week, and do that. This is definitely eye opening, Red, sad and also thought provoking as to what we can do.

    Great post, Red.
    Noeleen recently posted..WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?My Profile

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    • These are American statistics from governmental reporting agencies and studies into the dynamics of being a teenager. Reading programs exist in libraries around the world for weekends. It helps the work-week parents have something to do with children on the weekends. Buddy programs are also heavily engaged on weekends. You know, it is worth it. May even be something Daniel would like to do, too. xxx

      Reply
  6. The numbers look awful, but they are accurate. I have met teens who are just hanging on, so to speak. When we are able to be a part of their life, it does make a difference. The amazing thing about mentoring is it is not all that difficult. You just live your life and invite someone else to join you. When I show up to school events or at a student’s work, they really appreciate it.

    The sad part of this is that despite our best efforts, some still choose to end their life. This last year a friend of one of my youth group kids killed himself. We had seen him before, but had very limited contact with him because he just wasn’t interested. It was a sad, sad story.

    Last point– on suicide, schools don’t always want to talk about it because they are afraid that kids will do it if they talk about it. That is wrong. Talk about it, tell them there are people who are willing to talk about it with them and hopefully we can intervene and help them choose life.
    Derek Mansker recently posted..The Lego Jar (8/11/12) – Servants, Serpents, SermonsMy Profile

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    • Your last point is as ignorant as thinking if we do not talk about sex teen pregnancy will never happen. Such ostrich behavior is detrimental on so many levels.

      With pharma pushing for more meds of younger children after knowing the increased suicide risks (due mainly to lack of adult support) the slight decline we have seen in the last four reporting years is unlikely to be maintained. Adults think the problems can be solved with a pill and then provide no viable outlet for all the emotions which are brought into focus by the meds.

      Stopping before this becomes a post…

      Reply

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