'Empower A Youth Around You'

We recently launched our public awareness campaign to promote the Mayor's Mentoring Movement, an initiative with Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to recruit 1,000 new mentors to serve Boston youth. The campaign shows real mentors who have joined the movement and are helping to support and guide young people in Boston.

Today, we feature a face from the campaign: Sebastian Zapata, a mentor through Hyde Square Task Force, one of the Mayor's Mentoring Movement partner programs.

Why do you think mentoring is important?

Some people are fortunate enough to have someone in their life they can turn to and say thank you for inspiring me in ways I never imagined before, for playing a role in making me a better person. Mentoring is important because it is an amazing opportunity to form a bond with a young man or woman and be a positive influence in their life. It is a chance to empower a young individual, help them explore college and career opportunities, or explain to them that they have so much worth and ability. Mentoring is important because it gives you the opportunity to give back and be the figure that once influenced you to be great, or be the influence you wish you had growing up.

Why did you decide to get involved?

I decided to get involved with becoming a mentor to make a significant impact in the life of a local youth. We are all too familiar that to be a young person of color, especially young man, means you face tremendous barriers and hardships in society. After all the turmoil that has transpired in America in this past year dealing with how young men and women of color are being treated, I knew I had to be proactive and engage with those around me. I had to make sure I was not delaying getting involved to bring about positive change. President Obama’s call to action and Mayor Marty Walsh’s answer with this initiative was a fantastic way to get involved and connect with the youth in my neighborhood.  

What have you learned through being a mentor?

Since becoming a mentor at The Hyde Square Task Force in Jamaica Plain, I have learned to be a better listener, communicator and a friend. My mentee Victor is set to enter his second year of high school come this fall. How quickly I forgot about what it means to be teen and the pressures that come with being one. Watching Victor mature over the course of this past year has been an extraordinary experience. From all of the conversations and experiences we have shared, he has taught me to value the smaller things in life and often reminds me how much potential we all have. I have truly come to understand just how valuable our teens are to our communities and society.

What’s your favorite thing to do with your mentee?

My favorite thing to do with my mentee is take pictures of surrounding landscapes and people. Victor has a passion for taking photos with his phone. He really comes alive and is able to express himself through a camera lens. It is a simple activity that we can both enjoy together and later discuss what we saw and what we thought.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about getting involved in mentoring?

Be an agent of change in your community. Empower a youth around you. Become a mentor. There are hundreds of young people near you who could use your guidance and support. Many local organizations have mentorship programs. It’s easy to get involved and be a positive influence in someone’s life.

Are you ready to join Sebastian in the movement? Sign up today!