Tuesday, December 30, 2008

National Mentoring Month is upon us

A few weeks ago I wrote an article framing youth mentoring as a public health issue. Luckily, it seems as if we here at the Tutor/Mentor Connection aren't the only ones who conceive of mentoring in this way. In fact, our very own president-elect Obama is lending his support to a mentoring campaign by Dr. Jay A. Winsten of the Center for Health Communication at the Harvard School of Public Health. In a recent New York Times article Dr. Winsten explained that for this mentoring campaign "the idea is that encouraging mentoring is 'a public health effort', just like substance-abuse prevention or violence prevention." This campaign, run jointly by the Harvard Mentoring Project and servicenation.org is set to run throughout January, which is National Mentoring Month, both in print and online in a variety of media outlets. This idea, that youth mentoring is a public health issue and thus should be supported by community health care providers, is one that I will be addressing at length this winter as Nicole and I attempt to put our Tutor/Mentor Hospital Connection into action.

This mentoring campaign has ten action items for the month of January and I challenge you all to do one or more of the following:

* 1. Become a mentor in your community.
* 2. Learn more about mentoring.
* 3. Partner with a mentoring organization.
* 4. Tell 5 friends about National Mentoring Month.
* 5. Think about the mentors in your life and post a tribute to them online.
* 6. Watch videos of celebrities such as Quincy Jones, Sting, Cal Ripken, Jr., talk about the mentors in their lives.
* 7. Read the latest research and find resources on mentoring.
* 8. Go to YouTube on Thank Your Mentor Day&0153; (January 22nd) and make the National Mentoring Month videos the most popular of the day!
* 9. Serve your community on MLK Day of Service by deciding to become a mentor.
* 10.Make a donation to a mentoring organization in your community.

Keep in mind that you can support youth mentoring initiatives in a wide variety of ways, not just giving monetary donations or volunteering as a mentor (though these are 2 great ways to get involved!) Any skills or passions you have can be utilized by mentoring programs to improve youth outcomes. For example, in my last post I described how 2 girls with a passion for interior design decided to come to Cabrini Connections during their winter break and design and build a "college zone" for our kids. Through their passsion and initiative, students now have a comprehensive resource center for all things college. Let your inspiration be your guide throughout national mentoring month and think about all the different ways YOU can make a difference in a child's life.

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