The last week of January was a big week for the staff at Midlands Mentoring Partnership. Not only was it the final week of National Mentoring Month, it was also the week of the annual MENTOR summit, hosted by the National Mentoring Partnership. Held in Washington, DC, mentoring programs from across the country descended on Washington for a full week of advocating for mentoring on Capitol Hill, along with attending Summit presentations to gain useful knowledge to carry back to their programs.
One of the presenters at the summit was our very own Whitney Mastin, Director of Operations for Midlands Mentoring Partnership. Whitney’s presentation gave Summit goers a thorough overview of the Youth Initiated Mentoring pilot that is currently being implemented in Omaha, NE with two of our partner programs—Youth Emergency Services and Big Brother Big Sisters of the Midlands along with two referral sources—Project Everlast and the Juvenile Assessment Center.
Youth Initiated Mentoring is a mentoring model that allows youth a chance to form a formal mentoring relationship with someone that they already know. The youth are asked to identify someone from their past—or that is currently a part of their life – who they think would make an ideal mentor. These mentors could be anyone from old basketball coaches to youth pastors to previous foster care parents. The youth that MMP work with in the YIM pilot are ages 14-24 and are either transitioning out of foster care or have had some type of touch with the juvenile justice system.
We know through research that stable, caring adults are a cornerstone of positive child and youth development. With Youth Initiated Mentoring, we hope to provide the youth in the program with positive relationships with adults that know and care for them. Children and youth experience a sense of physical and emotional security and learn that they are valued and accepted by others through mentoring. Research shows that mentoring can lead to a decrease in risky behaviors, stronger communication skills, leadership experiences, and an improvement in competencies and self-esteem.
If you or someone you know would like to take the next step and become a mentor, visit www.mentoromahanow.org to find the program that is right for you.