January is Mentoring Month across Canada – and throughout North America, and this year Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada is celebrating the annual campaign aimed at connecting more of our community’s young people with caring adults.

The two-way, back and forth relationship between a mentor and mentee positively impacts brain development and equips youth with the skills needed to deal with adversities and stress they face in a complicated world.

Research shows that mentors play a powerful role in providing young people with the tools to make responsible choices, attend and engage in school, and reduce or avoid risky behaviors. In turn, these young people are:

  • 43% less likely to have conduct problems in school
  • Twice as likely to have high academic achievement
  • 17% more likely to be gainfully employed as adults
  • 34% less likely to allow themselves to be victimized or bullied by peers
  • Have stronger social networks and report being happier and more confident

While mentors from all regions and cultural backgrounds across the gender spectrum are needed, the demand for male volunteers is especially high. Volunteering for only one hour a week can truly change the course of a young life.

“Many young Canadians struggle with societal barriers and face adversities in their lives like detrimental living conditions and family violence, mental health and school issues as well as identity challenges,” said Peter Coleridge, National President and CEO, BBBSC.

“Simply having someone who listens and encourages them, youth can transform into confident and motivated young people and, more importantly, break cycles of poverty and crime and curb the development of mental health issues.”

This  year’s campaign encourages the public to go beyond just digital engagement – and become involved in real life.  Mentoring relationships are at their best when connections are made between a caring adult and a young person who knows that someone is there to help guide them through those real life decisions.

Here are some ways you can Participate in #MentoringMonth:

1. Be a mentor for someone Join a mentoring program if available in your city, or be a helping hand to someone who needs assistance. The best part about being a mentor is that there is no age limit. Excel in one skill and it can be taught to others.

2. Find a mentor to guide you Decide what goals you want to achieve. If the goals are professional improvements, search for a mentor in your work place. Finding a mentor will be easier to find once you know what goals to achieve.

3. Treat the mentors in your life  Thank your mentor with a nice gift this month, or take them out for lunch. Mentors tend to be very patient and deserve all the appreciation given to them. Even if money is an issue the simple gesture of thanking them for their time and work in you makes all the difference.

To learn more about the role mentoring plays in our community email volunteer@bbbsorillia.ca

Celebrate Mentoring Month this January. Imagine who they can become because of you.