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Michigan Mentors Helping Get Teens on Right Track

Experts say mentoring can help boost educational outcomes and behavior for teens. (Pixabay)
Experts say mentoring can help boost educational outcomes and behavior for teens. (Pixabay)
October 17, 2016

LANSING, Mich. – Being a teen is tough enough, especially without a supportive adult around to offer guidance through life's challenges.

Around Michigan, the GoodGuides youth mentoring program is working to help at-risk youth get on the right track for future success.

Kim Owens, branch manager for the GoodGuides program in Flint, says her group is targeting children ages 12 to 17, who face risk factors such as school failure, family violence, delinquency, poverty and other disadvantages.

"Seventy-five percent of our students are probably on the free lunch program because they can't afford to bring lunch,” she points out. “A lot of them eat breakfast at school as well.

“A lot of the kids are missing not just nutritional value but they're missing that parent, that moral support that they need at home to finish school.”

GoodGuides mentors spend at least four hours a month with a youth, working on career exploration and skill development.

Owens says the goal is to offer young people a pathway out of poverty and crime through positive youth development.

Owens says some at-risk youths lack the support and motivation to get to school regularly, but notes how she's seen how mentoring can boost educational outcomes and behavior.

She recalls one teen that didn't think he would make it through high school before he started working with a GoodGuides mentor.

"His mother was low-income, had some alcohol abuse issues, had a sister that has a mental disorder,” she relates. “He was a straight-A student when he did go to school and we started making sure that we spent time with him and he ended up graduating. And we helped to get his applications for college."

That young man is now working on a business degree.

Mentors are trained and work closely with parents, and Owens says some of her group’s best candidates have patience and a good heart.

GoodGuide mentoring is available through Goodwill programs around the state.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI