January is National Mentoring Month

National Mentoring Month is a great time to think about those who have mentored you and give back to young people in your life.

Our lives are shaped by relationships. Strong and supportive relationships make the good times even better and can make bad times more tolerable. While growing up, youth benefit significantly from caring relationships with people who are older and have different experiences. We call these relationships mentoring. Mentoring can be formal though a program like 4-H Tech Wizards through Michigan 4-H Youth Development or it can be informal, like the relationships you may build with a young person in your neighborhood or a youth group.  According to Michigan State University Extension, when a young person has non-familial adults they can talk to, learn from and confide in they benefit in a variety of ways. Youth with mentors report higher self-efficacy, better relationship skills and fewer incidences of risky behavior.

Take a minute to think about who mentored you. Were there people who made a difference in your life—perhaps a teacher, coach or family friend? Chances are that your time together was spent doing something fun; playing a sport or game, sharing a hobby, or talking. As you think about this person, consider the qualities they possessed that helped you. Now ask yourself, could you be a mentor to a young person? Thousands of mentoring programs around the country are looking for good mentors. You can find opportuntities near you by entering your zipcode on the National Mentoring Partnership website. If a formal program won’t work for you, consider how you can take on a mentoring role with a young person you already know. Think of the qualities your mentors possessed and see if you can provide similar support. The experience will not only benefit the young person. Mentors report a number of personal benefits from the relationships and highly recommend the experience for others.

Now, back to your mentors. Have you ever thanked them? Thank Your Mentor Day is January 16, 2014. This article explores ways to say thank you that will leave you and your mentor feeling great.

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