Across the country, January is National Mentoring Month, when special attention is paid to the effects of one-on-one mentoring on the youth in our community. It is so important for children who grow up in poverty to escape the cycle that poverty creates, and one highly effective way to break the cycle is for a child to have a relationship with a positive, older role model. Studies show that when paired with a mentor, young people are more likely to stay in and succeed in school, are less likely to engage in risky behavior, and are more likely to show improved self esteem. With chronic truancy rates among District 150 students at nearly 25 percent, and only 26 percent of Peoria area residents holding a Bachelor’s degree or higher, it is vitally important that these young people have mentors to look up to. The more successful our youth are, the more success we as a community will be.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a national organization dedicated to helping all children achieve success in life. Nationally, the organization is one of the largest donor and volunteer supported agencies promoting mentoring within the community. By developing positive relationships between their ‘bigs’ and ‘littles,’ Big Brothers Big Sisters is creating a direct and lasting effect on young people, which is shown to increase students’ confidence and grades, help students get along better with their families, decrease the use of illegal drugs and alcohol, and decrease the number of times students skip school. You can visit hoibbbs.com for more information on becoming a part of this program, and on the effects of mentoring on individuals and on a community.
If you ever find yourself in need of assistance and aren’t sure where to turn, the Heart of Illinois 2-1-1 program is here for you. Simply dial 211 to be connected to a trained staff member who will confidentially help you find the assistance you need, free of charge. If you are unable to connect at 211, you can also call 309-999-4029 or search for your specific need on the web at 211hoi.org.