By Promise Fellow Rachel Loose
“What is one thing you like best about yourself?” asked the mentor.
“That I’m not afraid to be myself,” responded the mentee.
One of the most exhilarating aspects of serving as an AmeriCorps Promise Fellow is the ability to be a part of someone’s story. In the small community of Pine River-Backus in north central Minnesota, this is exactly who we get to be.
In the research brief Mentoring: A Promising Strategy for Youth Development,1 published by Child Trends, youth engaged in mentoring relationships have better attendance in school, higher chances of attending a post-secondary institute, and a better attitude toward school.
Mentoring makes a huge impact in the lives of youth, both within and outside of the academic realm. It was with this knowledge in hand that our site began developing a mentoring program called Inspiration Point! this fall. As its name suggests, the hope of the program is to inspire others. By connecting community members with local youth, we believe unique relationships will blossom and grow, creating a chain reaction of inspiration.
As the program was being developed, we decided that if we were lucky enough to have five students sign up for the program it would be considered a success. We were awestruck to discover that more than 60 students signed up! Twenty-two of those students committed to the five-month-long program, and steadily we began to recruit mentors.
Because January is National Mentoring Month, we decided to kick off the program with a little bit of white powder and a whole lot of fun – snow tubing! Through a partnership with Trout Lake Camps, we were able to bring out all of our students and volunteer mentors for a wonderful afternoon of laughter, friendship, and fun.
We’re excited to see what continues to develop from Inspiration Point! It is our deepest hope to sew unity into our community and inspire youth to believe, “I’m not afraid to be myself.”