Mentoring Inspires Change
A little over one year ago, Boys & Girls Club member Harper connected with her mentor, Ms. Isabella, for the first time. She was learning to regulate big feelings, affecting her peer relationships.
“I was having trouble controlling my emotions and I heard about this mentoring program, so I decided that I might as well sign up, so I would be able to control my anger and not be so aggressive with the other kids,” Harper says.
She was excited to find someone who listened to her, and supported her.
Harper remembers the day she met her mentor vividly. They spoke about their hobbies and connected over shared interests.
“I really lucked out. Harper and I connected well,” says BGCS mentor, Ms. Isabella. “It was a really good fit.”
More than a year later, Harper is still meeting with Ms. Isabella, and one of her best friends, Az’amirah (Azzy), has joined their mentoring group.
Mentoring is a Mutually Beneficial Relationship
Through mentoring at Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield (BGCS), young people like Harper find positive adult mentors who notice their strengths, listen to their concerns, and open doors of possibility.
Studies show the importance of having positive adult role models. According to MENTOR National, 58% of adults who had a mentor growing up say their mentor supported their mental health. 74% say their mentor contributed significantly to their success later in life.
BGCS supports one-on-one and small-group mentoring relationships, inspiring kids and teens to explore their full potential. Matches meet for one hour every week, and participate in a variety of activities. Harper and Azzy enjoy playing games, exploring STEM projects, and creating themed art projects.
“We also play pretend,” says Ms. Isabella. “She pretends to be a customer, and I pretend to be a customer, and we do funny little accents.”
Isabella says she always looks forward to their weekly sessions and considers the mentoring experience mutually rewarding. “I learn a lot from both Harper and Azzy,” she says. “Even something small, like they teach me dances and what’s cool on TikTok, but also bigger things like what they’re dealing with in life, and I like that too.”
Mentoring Helps Youth Build Essential Skills
Not only are mentor matches focused on doing fun activities, but they also emphasize social-emotional learning (SEL).
The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning defines SEL as the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.
An article by National University shows students who participated in SEL programs saw an 11 percentile increase in their overall grades and better attendance. They report that, on a more individual level, social-emotional learning helps students better cope with emotional stress, solve problems, and avoid peer pressure to engage in harmful activities.
BGCS staff and mentors curate weekly SEL activities to meet youth’s unique needs. “Some of the bigger areas we have been working on throughout different groups include emotional regulation, social skills, peer relationships, self-confidence, mindfulness, and resilience,” says BGCS Programs Assistant and Mentoring Coordinator Ashley Heuer.
These weekly activities are helping Harper and Azzy find new coping skills. “At the beginning of mentoring, she asks me what I feel during the day and it’s usually anger, so now we do an activity together on how to control anger,” says Harper. “It’s helped me a lot throughout the one year we’ve done it.”
Mentoring is a bright spot in the week, and Club members always look forward to it. “We play games and talk about our feelings throughout the day,” says Azzy. “I feel happy that I was chosen to be in a mentoring group and excited every time I come.”
We Need Your Help
Someone to look up to. Someone to talk to about dreams and fears. Someone to celebrate victories big and small. A good mentor is there to listen, to support, to care.
But currently, one in three young people are growing up without a mentor.
This National Mentoring Month, we ask for your support in connecting more youth like Harper & Azzy with caring mentors.
We are thankful for our sponsors!