50 mentors for 50 kids
Minneapolis recruits City employees to make a difference in the life of a child – and set an example for the entire community
April 24, 2008 (MINNEAPOLIS) – Mayor R.T. Rybak and other City leaders today launched an effort to recruit 50 City employees to mentor children in Minneapolis. Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities (BBBS) has a waiting list of more than 500 children seeking mentors in Minneapolis, some of whom have been waiting for up to three years for a match.
To help close this mentoring gap, Minneapolis is working to recruit at least 50 City employees to mentor children in neighborhoods where kids have been waiting the longest for matches. The mentoring partnership stems from Minneapolis’ plan to prevent youth violence, which calls for every young person to have a trusted adult in their life. Studies have shown that kids who have a mentor are 46 percent less likely to use drugs and 30 percent less likely to behave violently.
"We’ve approached youth violence as a problem that doesn’t just have one solution. Surrounding our children with the support they need is key," said Mayor Rybak. "I’m asking City employees to help us fill a mentoring gap that desperately needs to be filled, but that’s just the beginning. There are hundreds of children in this city who are looking for a mentor, and this is really a challenge to our entire community to rally around our children and support them."
"We are so proud to partner with the City of Minneapolis to provide caring, adult mentors for the young people in our community," says Gloria Lewis, President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities. "With the volunteer support of City employees, our Little Brothers and Sisters will grow into more confident, competent and caring citizens. We know that youth mentoring has a long-lasting, positive impact on youth violence prevention, so I am particularly thankful to Mayor Rybak for his support of our programs and for his work on youth violence prevention."
BBBS is just one of several non-profit organizations that work to provide young people with mentors in Minneapolis, and they are always in need of people to volunteer their time and energy to make a difference in the life of a child. BBBS representatives are meeting with City staff throughout many departments to explain how mentoring works and to find people who can commit to become mentors.
"Every child needs trusted adults in their life to grow up successfully, and that’s an important part of Minneapolis’ blueprint to prevent youth violence," said City Council Member Cam Gordon, who is a member of the City’s Youth Violence Prevention Committee. "People who volunteer to mentor aren’t just helping kids, They’re also enriching their own lives. It’s a two-way street, and it’s a great way to make a rewarding and positive difference in the lives of adults as well as our kids."
"Mentoring children is an important way to create a safer community, but it’s much more than that," said Don Samuels, chair of the City Council’s Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee. "Having a mentor not only reduces the chance that a young person will turn to crime, but those positive role models can help guide those kids to grow into young people and adults who make their families and our community better and stronger."
A significant upswing in juvenile crime fueled an increase in violent crime in Minneapolis in recent years. In November 2006, the Minneapolis City Council and Mayor Rybak approved a resolution recognizing youth violence as a public health issue and establishing a committee to tackle the issue. The group, made up of City, County, and community experts, reviewed best practices, met with Minneapolis youth, consulted with national experts, assessed existing youth violence prevention programs, and engaged in a deep discussion about the complex issues facing young people in our community.
The result of the groups work is the Blueprint for Action: Preventing Youth Violence in Minneapolis, a report and action plan that recognizes that youth violence is a public health epidemic that requires a holistic, multi-faceted response. A key component of the blueprint is to connect youth to trusted adults, which spurred the effort to recruit more mentors in the city. To see the Blueprint for Action, visit Youth Violence Prevention.
Published Apr. 24, 2008