Children need mentors

Think back to your childhood. Was there one adult you really enjoyed talking with? Maybe it was a grandparent, a scout leader, an aunt, a coach, a neighbor, an older cousin, someone in your congregation, your piano teacher. This person helped you sort through growing-up issues. Even if you can't recall any specific conversations you had, you will remember the warm feelings thinking about this person brings.

Young people need parents to talk to, but they also need other adults to bounce ideas off, to ask questions of, to laugh with, to help sort through sticky situations.

Researchers have discovered that young people who have other caring adults to talk with are:

  • Less likely to do risky things, such as use alcohol or other drugs or be sexually active.
  • More likely to grow up successfully. Even children in abusive, low-income, chaotic, or otherwise difficult situations have better futures if they find at least one caring adult outside the home.
  • Likely to think they can make a difference and that they matter.
  • Better able to succeed in school.

It really takes a community to raise young people.

I think back to the community that I grew up in and how fortunate I was to have several adults in my life to help me form the values and ethics that have been important in my life. There were teachers, extension agents, neighbors, coaches and 4-H club leaders.

As a young person there were these adults to ask me how things were going, adults that would play a game of basketball with me, somebody there to help me with problems or even just be a responsible adult to let me know as a young person the difference between right or wrong. As a young person growing up in northern Minnesota I was very lucky.

There was an adult that I remember to this day that was a great influence on me as I grew up; it was my high school ag teacher, Mr. Wahlin. What a nut this guy was, he taught us about small engines and livestock and how to have a real good time. There were several memories I have but one that come to mind I would like to share. At a soils judging contest in the fall of my freshman year the whole freshman ag class went through soils in the classroom and really did quite well. We textured soils and learned about soil profiles and about fertilizer needs and it was fun. Well, we went to a contest, the whole class and it was a blast, but we finished last. Upon finding out that we were last it wasn't much fun anymore, but Mr. Wahlin made sure we had a fun time. In fact it turned out that we had a touch football game after the contest and Mr. Wahlin even played and it was the best football game ever. It was a memory that I will never forget.

Young people in northwest Colorado are also very lucky to have caring people around them. As I spend time in Craig, I see several adults giving thousands of hours to young people to help them. We are very fortunate to have organizations that are there for young people. Organizations like R.A.D., Grand Futures, Boys & Girls Club of Craig, Boy and Girl Scouts of America, organized sport groups, extra curricular activities in schools, Young Life, Partners, 4-H and the list can go on forever. The people and organizations and the activities are out there for young people to be engaged in activities with adults.

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