Growing up I hardly ever heard of the term youth development or mentor/mentoring being heavily used and driven like many organizations may push it today. I learned a lot from simply listening to my grandparents, observing my mother and following whatever was considered or taught to be the right thing to do. I was also an athlete but to many coaches it was strictly about perfecting my game or craft to win on the court or in the field; yet not so much shared about how to win in life.
Youth development is a major responsibility shared amongst many stakeholders. These stakeholders spread between family, friends, educators, the church, coaches or any individual a child may spend time with including the child’s friends and their parents. I believe at times we think it’s the parent fault when a child behaves a certain way; understandable, yet, we shouldn’t dwell there. That child’s parent may be a new parent and may not have had the true guidance of a parent growing up. Therefore, they struggle and have no idea of how or what they need to do to be a better parent and care for a life outside of their own. This is just one example but many scenarios can be formed. We can’t immediately discount anyone. We need to know what the ultimate root of the challenges may consist of. Any individual that works with a young person in any form, plays a role in youth development and mentoring. In most cases, the ultimate goal should be for needs to meet opportunity.
There is a major difference between what young people need to understand and know to grow towards a “productive adulthood” compared to what they want to do in their free time. Many parents sign their kids up for afternoon school programs that may be entertainment based and may be missing the components needed to have a solid base of who they are and what they want out of life. Some components include preparedness, being bold, learning of self- weaknesses and strengths. Young people need to be taught how to use their strengths and work the weakness; especially when it comes to growing, facing adversity, and at times being a first or outcast in some situations from academics to personal growth. It’s important with the era we are currently serving we express the cautions of being a voice and the engagement of resistance.
When it comes to mentoring, it is important that we allow the young people to understand mentors are there to be a difference maker, to shed light on dark situations and to provide the tools, resources and advice necessary to succeed in areas of misunderstanding or confusion. On the other spectrum, mentors can be accountability partners to the goals and business desires one may have in life. The will help you see the destination but won’t give you a step by step or detailed map on how to arrive there. The mentors are to be the ones you are comfortable with sharing any information and dreams with. Someone you trust to give you their honest opinions and secured guidance in life personally, professionals and even in some cases spiritually.
Youth development and mentoring requires true engagement, exposed activities and experiences, listening to understand and not just respond. It is vital to pour into each youth we cross especially if there are any signs of uncertainty. Development and mentoring is needed all around. It may not be taking place at the home but it can still take place at the school or any extracurricular activity and vice versa. EVERYONE PLAYS A ROLE in youth development and mentoring our youth to seek greater be better and pay it forward.
Ala’Torya V. Cranford
Founder/President, TranspireONE, Inc
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