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Role Models for At-Risk Youth: Texas Mentors Needed

PHOTO: Research shows that at-risk kids with mentors are more likely to be engaged in academics and other extracurricular activities, and less likely to get into trouble. Photo credit: USDA/Lance Cheung/Flickr.
PHOTO: Research shows that at-risk kids with mentors are more likely to be engaged in academics and other extracurricular activities, and less likely to get into trouble. Photo credit: USDA/Lance Cheung/Flickr.
January 28, 2015

AUSTIN, Texas - Those Texans who have resolved to make a difference this year are being encouraged to consider becoming mentors to young people.

A variety of mentoring programs in cities statewide match thousands of at-risk children with caring adults, but many more are in need of strong role models. Veronica Fox, marketing director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas, said these relationships really can shape a child's future.

"Ninety-nine percent of our kids stay in school and avoid early parenting, and 98 percent improve or maintain their grades in school," she said. "So when you do the math on how many kids we serve, that's a pretty huge impact. "

Fox said mentors generally meet with their youth matches three to four times a month over the course of at least a year. While all kinds of caring adults are needed, Fox said "we do have a lot of boys on the waiting list, so we definitely need more male mentor volunteers. And again, it's pretty reflective of the community, so about half our kids are Hispanic or Latino."

It's estimated that of the more than 9 million kids considered "at-risk" across the nation, only about one-third will have a mentor in their life.

Fox said the Central Texas chapter served more than 1,100 young people last year. January is National Mentoring Month.

More information is online at bigmentoring.org. Mentoring research is at mentoring.org.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TX