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Mentors: One of the Most Valuable Relationships Youth Can Have

Person helping someone up on a mountain top

Our youth have many relationships in their lives including family, friends, coaches, and teachers.  One of the most valuable relationships a youth can have is a mentor.  As defined by the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, a mentor is "a trusted counselor or guide."

The website states the original mentor is a character found in Homer’s epic poem: The Odyssey. “When Odysseus, King of Ithaca went to fight in the Trojan War, he entrusted the care of his kingdom to Mentor. Mentor served as the teacher and overseer of Odysseus' son, Telemachus”  In January of 2002, our nation launched National Mentoring Month which was endorsed by President George W. Bush.  This event is supported by Harvard School of Public Health, MENTOR, and the Corporation for National and Community Service.  Every year since then, our nation continues to recognize the importance of this relationship. In President Obama’s final days in the White House, he declared January 2017 National Mentoring Month through a presidential proclamation:

"Nobody succeeds on their own: each young person's strength and resilience is fostered by those who have taught them they can do anything they put their mind to. Whether helping mentees study for a test, learn a new skill, or lift their heads up after a setback, mentors provide them the chance they need to move forward and set their sights even higher. And in helping mentees achieve their goals, mentors can inspire them to reach back and provide the same support to someone else in need of a mentor."

The value of having a mentor is stated on the website  “A mentor guarantees young people that there is someone who cares about them, assures them they are not alone in dealing with day-to-day challenges, and makes them feel like they matter.  Research confirms that quality mentoring relationships have powerful positive effects on young people in a variety of personal, academic, and professional situations.  Ultimately, mentoring connects a young person to personal growth and development, and social and economic opportunity.”  Similar thoughts were echoed on the hubspot blog, which expressed that a mentor is “making yourself available to support and advise someone when they need it, delivering that support in a way that makes sense to them, and always, always keeping that person's best interests in mind.”

Statistics from show the value of this relationship include:

  • 55% are more likely to go to college

  • 78% are more likely to volunteer regularly

  • 90% are interested in becoming a mentor

  • 130% are more likely to hold leadership positions

  • 52% less likely than their peers to skip a day of school and 37% less likely to skip a class when meeting regularly with a mentor (Public/Private Ventures study of Big Brothers Big Sisters)

  • 46% less likely than their peers to start using illegal drugs and 27% less likely to start drinking. (Public/Private Ventures study of Big Brothers Big Sisters)


The strength wheel, which is part of the Sources of Strength program, found in many of our district’s middle and high schools, has mentors as one of the eight pieces of the wheel.  When training students about this piece of the wheel, the students are told, “Having a mentor person, role model, or someone older who you trust and can talk to is extremely protective.   There is something about having a mentor that helps us operate at our highest potential, it helps us be ourselves at our best.”

As we head into a new year, think about the people in your life who have influenced you.  Mentors are important to have in our lives no matter how long the relationship lasts.  Then, on January 25 which is  #ThankYourMentor Day, thank that mentor(s) for the influence that they have had in your life and that connection which has made you the person you are today.


This month, several National Mentoring Month events are recognized at the national level and are celebrated on social media.  

January 4, 2018  – I Am a Mentor Day

  • A day for volunteer mentors to celebrate their role and reflect on the ways mentees have enhanced their world.

January 11, 2018 – National Mentoring Month Kick-off Twitter Chat (3 p.m. ET/12 p.m. PT)

  • A social media opportunity to discuss all things National Mentoring Month and how mentoring is impacting local communities.

  • You can see last year’s Twitter Chat here!

January 15, 2018 – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service

  • A day to share in the inspirational words of MLK, Jr. and elevate the spirit of service through volunteerism.

January 17, 2018 – International Mentoring Day

  • A day of international conversations on social media where photos, video and powerful mentoring stories messages are shared.

January 25, 2018 – #ThankYourMentor Day

  • A day for all who have real life mentoring experiences to thank those who helped them on their path to adulthood and beyond.


Additional Resources

Make an Impact: Mentor in Real Life

December 28, 2017 | By CSilberman | Category: Mental Health

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