“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.”
— Benjamin Disraeli
Often times youth dealing with excessive challenges build emotional walls as a defense mechanism, trying to protect themselves from disappointment and potential further hardship. This can manifest itself in an outward lack of interest, misbehavior or even aggression. In some cases there is a drastic divide between the students and the adult figures in their lives. As mentors, it is our job to display the consistency and kindness necessary to bridge that gap. As mentors start to work with students hiding behind this tactic, it is important to remember that with patience and a consistent presence those walls will start to come down over time..
When met with distance or silence, quickness to anger or frustration right off the bat from your mentee, Edutopia suggests that using these harder instances as an opportunity to create connections rather than consequences fosters positive youth development.
To create significant connections with your mentee, start by:
The video clip above explains the 5 C's of Positive Youth Development, five attributes mentors can inspire within their mentees through making connections. These 5 C’s are the foundation of influential mentoring, using connections to focus on promotion of competence, confidence, connection, character and caring.
Take a look to see how mentors can make a world of difference through positive connections!
"Fear not, sweet child..."
“Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free.”- Stephen King
What is stopping you from reaching your goals? Is it time? Your finances? For our mentee Brianna at the Carolina Youth Development Center (CYDC) it was one thing - fear- before she met her mentee, Andrew. Like many teens, Brianna struggled with self-doubt, and was losing hope for the future. She was getting frustrated with math class, and felt that she would never achieve her dream of attending college and becoming a nurse due to her circumstances as a child in foster care.
Noticing the frustration his mentee felt when she could not understand problems in her math homework assignments, Andrew was eager to help. Brianna grew angry with herself and did not want to be seen as a “dumb” kid asking questions. Andrew was very encouraging with Brianna, and assured her that he cared more about her understanding the concepts in her assignments than he cared about right answers. Through their tutoring sessions at CYDC and Andrew’s support, Brianna learned to open up and she became willing to try without the fear of being judged. “Her eyes widened when she saw the big picture and realized it's all the same just with different variables, numbers and results,” he said of the moment he noticed his mentee was no longer afraid of math. As her anxiety decreased, she confidence grew, and her math scores improved.
Andrew also helped his mentee look past high school and towards her dream of becoming a nurse. As a surprise for his mentee, he researched and compiled a list of every nursing program in South Carolina, all of the high school courses she would need to take, and steps she would need to take to get into the programs. “Seeing Brianna get excited when she realized her dream was obtainable made this whole experience worth every second,” he said of that special moment.
Andrew was able to give his mentee the encouragement she needed to build confidence in herself and have hope for her future. Because of their mentoring relationship, fear is no longer what is keeping Brianna from accomplishing her goals. She learned to never accept the “no,” and that going after your dreams is something worth pursuing. If you would like to help a child build the confidence to pursue their dreams, visit our Volunteer page to learn about the volunteer opportunities we have at Be A Mentor.
“Your temporary circumstances do not have to be your permanent identity… All of us have challenges and problems, but in almost all circumstances they are temporary, but somehow they get so invested in us that we think they are permanent.”
For children living in low-income areas, the difference between success and failure has little to do with talent, and much to do with attitude. You do not have to be a brilliant student to become the first person in your family to go to college, nor do you have to be a mechanical genius to start a trade career. Dreams being achieved is often the result of resilience, enduring, and having faith in knowing that if you make small changes for the better things can add up.
Most of us have faced situations, or been given identities, that we never thought we would be confronted with. We also know how hard it can be to break free from those labels, even if the only person we have to convince is ourselves. Many of our mentees have challenges, problems, and labels that many of us never even thought about. Many of the children in our programs are living in poverty, having issues with bullying, or struggling with learning disabilities. Due to these challenges, many of them feel discouraged and hopeless in their future at heartbreakingly early ages. Mentors hear things like “I don’t know how I could ever do that,” or, “That’s not for me, people from my neighborhood don’t go to college,” before kids even hit middle school.
So how do we fix this? How do we fight this? Showing up is the first step. The key to building resilience is encouraging kids to define themselves by their character, and not by their circumstances. Almost all circumstances, no matter how bleak they seem, are temporary. Simply getting a child to believe in that is the first step to helping them reach their full potential.
If you would like to empower a child to have the courage to reach for their dreams, please visit our Get Involved section to learn about our Programs and Volunteer Opportunities. Feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com if you have any questions.
Last night Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas earned the right of an elite few having joined the USA Olympic Team in Women's Gymnastics for the second time, a feat that has not been accomplished since 2000. As the oldest member of the gymnastics team, the odds were certainly against Aly Raisman, but through her own determination, and the support of her parents, she kept her eyes on the prize and ultimately her hard work paid off.
Raisman summed up what motivated her to go out for the Olympic team for a second time in saying, "I just want to look back and know that I had no regrets. I didn't want to be sitting on the couch watching the 2016 Olympics thinking, 'What if I'd tried?'"
We've all had moments where we gave up too soon only to feel the pain of regret later. At Be A Mentor we work to empower youth to reach their full potential by matching them with caring adults committed to their success, role models like Aly Raisman found in her parents. Sometimes when we ask children to step outside of their comfort zones it feels, to them, like being stuck on a balance beam. Thankfully, when they have someone to encourage and support them along the way they almost always stick the landing. Some mentees go on to achieve things they deemed impossible before meeting their mentor, and others gain the courage to try again even if they stumble and fall. By encouraging youth, and giving them the guidance and tools they need to succeed, it is our hope that no child in the Lowcountry grows up to look back and think "What if I'd tried?"
Watch the video above to hear more about Raisman's commitment to her craft and her journey on the Road to Rio. To learn more about how mentoring relationships inspire children in your area, please visit our Testimonials page to read what a few of our mentees had to say about their mentors.
"What is my purpose in life?" That is a pretty heavy question that all of us have asked ourselves at some point in life. In fact, some people never quite figure it out, which is OK. The YouTube channel SoulPancake asked 100 individuals from all walks of life, ages 0-100, what their purpose in life is. You may be surprised by their answers.
Recurring themes with these participants were helping others and coming together to inspire those who don't have anyone there for them. One participant put it briefly in saying “I’m here to inspire other people to live life to their fullest potential,” which is what we consider our purpose in life. Our mission is to enable youth to develop positive relationships with caring adults who empower them to reach their full potential through mentorship. This is our mission, because you never know the impact you can have on someone's life until you spend time with them. You should never underestimate your ability to connect with another person, especially a child, because an encouraging presence is sometimes all it takes to make a lasting difference.
Watch the video for yourself and explore what your own purpose in life is. If you think a part of your purpose is helping youths reach their full potential, visit our Get Involved section to learn more about our programs and how you can be involved with Be A Mentor. Also feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
But we'll try to make it a little bit easier!
It's true, "A truly amazing mentor is hard to find, and impossible to forget." Luckily, we have found 309 of them, and the Lowcountry is a better place because of it- because of YOU.
The 2015-2016 school year is coming to a close, and this week most of you will be meeting with your mentee for the last time. Some of you will be saying goodbye for the summer, and some of you will be saying goodbye for good. Either way, an amazing amount of work has been done this school year, and that is something to be proud of!
If you do not think you saw the results you were hoping for with your mentee, be assured that even if it is not obvious to you, your presence made an impact and your mentee will not forget the difference you made.
Whether you will be picking up with the same mentee in the fall, or not continuing with us, keep two things in mind as you say goodbye: reflection and closure. As we mention during our training programs, closure is an (if not the most) important part of a mentoring relationship. Our goal as an organization, and your goal as mentors, is to provide stable, caring relationships for children. We would not want to undo the great work of the school year by breaking a child's heart with an abrupt exit. We know you don't want that either.
During your last meeting reflect on some of the things you and your mentee have done, stories you have shared, and the progress they have made during the school year. Ask your mentee things like:
Once again, we are so proud of the work our mentors have done in the 2015-2016 school year. No matter how long you have been a part of the Be A Mentor family, we appreciate you and value your effort and time you gave to your mentee. We hope to see in the fall!
Being a Mentor
By: Emily Gildea
"Mentoring for the first time is pretty much how you'd imagine it to be. It's like your first day of school, only you're an adult and nervous to meet a kindergartner. Will she think I'm cool? Will we connect? What will we talk about? And yes, even our connection, as strong as it is now, took time.
We started off coloring a lunch bag that I still bring every week after four years together. Sometimes, I'd bring my Kindle and she'd play a game on it. After time, though, our time together was effortless."
Our mentor, Emily Gildea, shared the joy she has found in mentoring as well as tips for anyone interested in mentoring on her blog Lowcountry Love Letters. Click the link to read all about her journey with her mentee, Ashlyn, and how being a mentor has impacted her life.
$100 Word Challenge
Review spelling and addition with your mentee using the $100 Word Challenge!
Using a sheet of paper, dry erase board, or chalk board, write out the alphabet from A-Z. Next, give each letter a corresponding numerical value, like in the photo above. Have your mentee list as many words they can come up with that equal $100.
To make it competitive and more fun, try timing them or getting them to come up with the most expensive word they can think of!
Taking a Break from Tests!
Your mentees are well into the testing season with SC Ready testing at the end of April, SCPASS testing this week, and final exams coming up. They may also be stressed about turning in a term paper, or submitting one last assignment necessary to pull up a grade. Regardless of what's going on in class, we know that they look forward to meeting with you to take away from that stress.
We also know that one thing people of all ages can connect on is a love of coloring. We have provided a few motivational coloring sheets below that you can work on with your mentee. Just click any of the pictures below for the full-size image, print it out, and color away. Have fun!
Lazy 8 Breathing
If your mentee is feeling particularly stressed, try doing "Lazy 8 Breathing" with them. Sometimes the simple act of changing breathing patterns can refocus a person and make them feel more at ease. Print the figure 8 picture below, and follow the instructions. You may even want to keep one for yourself!
Cinco de Mayo!
Cinco de Mayo- or the fifth of May— celebrates the Mexican army's victory over French troops at the Battle of Puebla in 1862 during the Franco-Mexican War. The victory is a minor holiday in Mexico, as it is mainly celebrated in the city of Puebla, but it is a major holiday in the United States. The United States Civil War was being fought at the same time, so the victory was a symbol of inspiration to the Americans of Mexican descent fighting with the Union. Today, Americans of all cultures celebrate Cinco de Mayo with parties, mariachi music, street festivals, and parades. Be A Mentor did not want to miss out on the fun, so we bring to you a few activities to celebrate Cinco de Mayo!
In times of joy you can find colorful banners of paper flags flying high above the city in Mexico. These flag banners are called papel picados and they are used as decoration in times of celebration. Celebrate Cinco de Mayo by making your own banner full of papel picados with your mentee! Just follow the instructional guide on the right!
Easter Egg Maracas
Still looking for something to do with those leftover Easter eggs? Turn them into maracas and start your very own mariachi band with your mentee!
What You Will Need:
Open your Easter eggs and add the tablespoon of rice, then close them. Place the egg in between the plastic spoons, and wrap masking tape around your newly shaped maraca. Once the maraca has been taped it is the fun part- decorating! After creating the pattern of your choice, you're ready to make some music!