Research shows that mentors are valuable in the development of young people, providing them with the tools that help them make responsible choices, reduce the use of drugs and alcohol, prevent truancy, and reduce school violence. Mentoring also improves school attendance, academic performance, attitudes about school, and peer and family relationships. Mentoring Makes a Difference program, provided by Prevention Consultants of Missouri, has had similar results.
Mentoring Makes a Difference provides an opportunity for a positive, caring, adult volunteer to meet with a matched child for one hour a week in a supervised, after-school setting. Mentors commit to one-year of participation. The program includes 46 kids ages six through 14 in the Rolla area. The program began in the fall of 2003 and continues to focus on building a positive relationship between the participating child and mentor. Mentees are referred to the program by school counselors, teachers, or parents. They are then matched with a volunteer mentor. Mentors assist mentees in homework but also play games and just spend time talking to their mentees. Opportunities outside of school are also offered to the mentees, such as mini golf, ceramic painting, movies, and skating.
Prevention Consultants of Missouri also provides a mentoring program for dads. Dads Mentoring Dads helps support local dads who have been referred by Family Court, Children’s Division, or other similar services. The dads are matched with other local dads to provide support, share ideas, make connections with available support, and serve as a role model. The mentors commit to one year of at least monthly contacts. The program works to help local fathers improve parenting skills, reduce stress and increase problem solving skills, and become more engaged in their children’s lives.