Mentoring Makes a Difference
A recent report from the CDC indicates that 3 in 4 high school students experiences at least one ACE (Adverse Childhood Experience) during the pandemic. Adolescents who reported four or more ACEs during the pandemic had a prevalence of poor current mental health and a prevalence of past-year suicide attempts. Experience of specific ACE types (e.g., emotional abuse) is associated with higher prevalence of poor mental health and suicidal behaviors. Persistent exposure to one or more ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) as a child or adolescent can cause prolonged activation of the body’s stress response, which triggers toxic stress. Toxic stress, when not properly addressed and reduced, can dramatically change how the brain develops and can lead to many learning and behavioral issues as a child, as well as many common life-threatening health conditions as an adult.
We all have a role to play in providing better futures for children and brighter prospects for our community. We recognize that many people have experienced trauma which can have long-lasting effects. When we work together, we can begin reducing childhood adversity by promoting resiliency and healing. Together, we can change the question from “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?” in order to help mitigate the impact of trauma and promote resiliency. To learn more about ACEs and gain access to resources including our trauma-credentialed training opportunities, please visit our ACEs web page.
What can be done to help?
When adversity does occur, and it is important to remember that adversity does occur, the negative impacts are not irreversible. The brain has the potential to change and adapt throughout childhood and adulthood, so the areas that may have been affected by certain events can be strengthened over time. This is also known as developing resilience.
Mentoring is one way to help children develop resiliency. Per Harvard’s Center for the Developing Child, “The single most common factor for children who develop resilience is at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive parent, caregiver, or other adult.” Many studies have been conducted and the research is clear – helping children develop resilience is the antidote to the toxic stress impacts of early childhood trauma. Resilience isn’t a character trait, but something that can build and buffer a child’s ability to withstand adversity. This resilience-building comes from at least ONE caring adult investing in the relationship with that child.
What is a mentor?
Youth mentoring is “the process of matching mentors with young people who need or want a caring, responsible adult in their lives. Adult mentors are usually unrelated to the child or teen and work as volunteers through a community-, school-, or church-based social service program. The goal of youth mentoring programs is to improve the well-being of the child by providing a role model that can support the child academically, socially and/or personally. This goal can be accomplished through school work, communication, and/or activities.”
What mentorship opportunities exist in our area?
Cobb County Schools Foundation has a mentorship program called Cobb Mentoring Matters. The mission of this program is to empower high-risk youth in our community to make positive life choices that enable them to maximize their personal potential. By providing Mentors that will serve as a prevention and intervention strategy that will reduce the risk factors that can come between children and their ability to learn – both in the classroom and at home. Click here to access their Mentorship Application. Please contact Anjeannette Barker, CCSD Mentor Coordinator, for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org
Marietta Mentoring for Leadership matches high-potential, under-resourced youth with community mentors and provide collegial experiences that encourage and support students, in hopes of maximizing their leadership potential and their future success. The 1:1 mentoring model provides students with a mentor with common interests to build a relationship with, to gain exposure to a broader world and a friend who encourages them. Click here to learn more about mentorship opportunities with MFL. Please contact Claire Dodd, Match Coordinator, for more information at email@example.com
Even giving just one hour a week to become a mentor can make a world of difference in the life of a child. As stated above, even the caring presence of just ONE adult investing in their lives can help bring stability, build confidence and develop needed resilience. With greater resilience comes greater outcomes for these children as they grow and go through life.
It doesn’t take a hero, it just takes one willing adult willing to invest in a child who needs someone to believe in them and provide a positive role model for them. Become a mentor and help make a difference for good.