We acquired the word “mentor” from the literature of ancient Greece. In Homer’s epic, The Odyssey, Odysseus was away from home fighting and journeying for 20 years. During that time, Telemachus, the son he left as a babe in arms, grew up under the supervision of Mentor, an old and trusted friend. When the goddess Athena decided it was time to complete the education of young Telemachus, she visited him disguised as Mentor and they set out together to learn about his father. Today, we use the word mentor for anyone who is a positive, guiding influence in another (usually younger) person’s life (1).
Why is mentoring important? The life-long impact of mentoring youth is well documented. At-risk students who have a consistent mentor in their lives are less likely to skip class (37%), less likely to skip school (52%), more likely to enroll in college (55%), and…get this…130% more likely to hold a leadership position (2). The fact is one positive and stable mentoring relationship can change the life trajectory of an at-risk child in a significant way. All it takes on the part of adults is a little time. Check with your schools and local service agencies to see how you can help. By committing to changing the trajectory of a single child, you can change the trajectory of generations to come.