Why every kid needs a mentor

A mentor empowers a person to see a possible future and believe it can be obtained.

-Shawn Hitchcock

I recently finished a great audio book called Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World by Dr Tony Wagner. It offered some fascinating insights into the lives and education of some young innovators. One common thread between all of them, is that they had someone who believed in them – someone who championed their cause and helped their passions ignite into purpose.

If I look at my own life, strong mentoring from a handful of selfless individuals has made an enormous difference. They gave me an outlet to speak my mind, guided me through tough times, and believed in me even when I certainly did not believe in myself. I can’t help but wonder – where would I be, had I not been mentored?

If I then think of some of the most ‘difficult’ kids I have encountered in the classroom, it immediately is clear that there is very little mentoring happening in their lives. I think of one young man I used to know who was clearly a gifted video editor and entertainer. He created a series of YouTube clips that I thoroughly enjoyed – they were witty, polished, and edited brilliantly. However, in the classroom, he is mostly seen as a troublemaker who can’t be controlled. What if someone guided him and encouraged his passion for making videos?

There are countless others found in schools all over the world who suffer from a lack of mentoring. I personally feel convicted about how little conscious influence I am having. My experiences, my failures, my successes and my perspectives are all valuable. I should be actively engaging with the youth who are within my sphere of influence, because I know, at least in part, what it’s like to be them – to be searching for purpose.

Rita Pierson says in her inspirational TED Talk – Every kid needs a champion – “How powerful would our world be, if we had kids who were not afraid to take risks, who were not afraid to think, and who had a champion. Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.”

I’d love to hear from you! What are your thoughts on mentoring? Have you personally been influenced by mentors in your life? Leave your thoughts and comments below.

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