Mentors and young people often are matched up according to their interests, from sports and hunting to games and movies. Photo credit: Bill Scoville/Flickr.
Those Tennesseans who have resolved to make a difference this year are being encouraged to consider becoming mentors to young people. There are a variety of mentoring programs in cities statewide that match at-risk children with caring adults, but many more youths are in need of strong role models. Sarah Beatty, director of events and communications with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee, says these relationships really can have a positive influence. “Children most commonly in our program improve in their scholastic competence, but one of the forgotten areas people don’t think about is children’s attitudes toward risk behaviors,” says Beatty. “Never beginning to use alcohol or never beginning to smoke.” Beatty says there are both community and school-based programs across Tennessee, and mentors are generally asked to commit to about an hour or so each week over the course of a year or school year. January is National Mentoring Month. Beatty notes, while there is a need for all types of people to become mentors, there is always a greater need for more men to get involved. “Most commonly it is a single mom raising a son,” says Beatty. “She really needs a positive male role model in that child’s life.” It’s estimated of the more than 9 million kids considered “at-risk” across the nation, only about one-third will have a mentor in their lives.