MAYVILLE - For the past three years, Chautauqua Tapestry, a federally funded system of care initiative awarded to the Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene, has supported new growth and development with two specialty providers of mentoring services for youth. January was National Mentoring Month and to mark this, Tapestry thanked the Chautauqua Striders and Compeer staff and volunteers for their commitment to mentoring youth.
Mentoring is based on the premise that predictable, consistent relationships with stable, competent adults can help youth cope with challenges and steer clear of high-risk behaviors. In a mentoring relationship, mentors provide guidance and support to help young people build self-confidence, learn positive behaviors, stay in school, and avoid potential pitfalls like drugs and gangs.
Mentors can be teachers, peers or community members, and mentees can be young people from all socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures. Mentoring services are offered in schools, community centers, religious institutions, school-to-work programs and other youth-oriented facilities.
The Office of Justice Programs' efforts to combat youth violence and delinquency are aided through a variety of prevention and intervention efforts, including mentoring. OJP as a whole supports National Mentoring Month. This public service campaign recruits volunteer mentors to help young people achieve their full potential.
Jann Ball, executive director of Compeer Chautauqua, an affiliate of Compeer Inc. in Rochester, said they have been serving county youth and families since 1999.
"Compeer mentors serve as a bridge to enhanced wellness and community integration for youth striving for better mental health," Ball said. "Compeer mentoring is considered an evidence-based program according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Parents may choose Compeer mentoring as a needed component to their child/family's wellness plan. Compeer offers highly trained community mentors who are matched in one-to-one supportive relationships, to increase developmental assets, including self-esteem, social skills and trust. One of the many benefits for participating in the Compeer program, in addition to offering the healing power of friendship, is that the mentor, the youth and the family have the opportunity to build relationships that help people of differing backgrounds learn and appreciate each other's strengths and barriers."
Amanda Gesing, Director of Advocacy at Chautauqua Striders, said a mentor can play a powerful role in a youth's life by being an extra source of encouragement and support.
"Mentors help build confidence, open the door a little wider and expand a child's world," Gesing said. "For more than 30 years, Chau-tauqua Striders has been dedicated to the mentoring and guidance of youth through education, advocacy and athletics. Over the past 10 years Chautauqua Striders' community and school-based mentoring program has grown countywide and has over 100 mentoring matches. Mentors and men-tees meet one-on-one at school or in the community, where they work on making positive choices, discuss friendships and school, and plan for the future. Mentors benefit from mentoring, as well. Volunteer mentors report feeling more connected to the community and have a better understanding of youth. Mentor one child. Change two lives."
To learn more about the opportunities to discover what a difference a friend can make in the life of a child, contact the Compeer office at 487-2956, or visit their website at www.compeer.stel.org.
For more information on how to become a mentor, visit www.chautauqua-striders.org, call 488-2203, or like them on Facebook.