For the last five years, the Highland Street Corps Ambassadors of Mentoring, in partnership with Mass Mentoring Partnership and the Massachusetts Service Alliance have hosted Youth Mentoring Day at the State House.
The event, held in National Mentoring Month (January), raises awareness about youth mentoring in Massachusetts, celebrates the power of mentoring relationships, and recognizes individuals who have significantly contributed to the mentoring field, including mentoring program staff, mentors, businesses, and state legislators.
[caption id="attachment_538" align="alignleft" width="200" caption="Attendees taking their seats prior to the start of Youth Mentoring Day 2011"][/caption]More than 200 people dedicated to advancing youth mentoring in the Commonwealth attend the event. During the program, we talk about the value of mentoring to the mentees and Massachusetts in general. We reinforce the need for more people to step up as mentors, and urge our state legislators to do all that they can to ensure that Massachusetts continues to make a financial investment in the mentoring field.
While all of this is essential, a critical piece is still missing, and that’s a significant youth presence at Youth Mentoring Day.
A large youth turnout sends the message that mentoring is much more widespread than many realize: There are more than 23,000 youth involved with mentoring programs across Massachusetts. It tells our public officials that mentoring is not only important to program staff, but that it is viewed by mentees as a critical part of their lives, and something they are willing to make the extra effort to come out and support.
Mentees are also a powerful addition to the legislative meetings that follow the Youth Mentoring Day program. Youth can communicate the value of mentoring relationships better than anyone else. They can speak first-hand to how their mentors have helped connect them to resources, guide them around important decisions, and just have been consistent and caring friends. Our collective work to ensure public resources for the mentoring field is simply much stronger when the youth voice is a larger part of our call to action.
But more than that, participating in Youth Mentoring Day offers a unique and empowering experience for mentees. Youth that participate are introduced to the workings of the Massachusetts government. They get to see the State House, and if they attend legislative meetings, they may even meet with their state representative or state senator, and have the opportunity to practice communication skills as they educate public officials about mentoring. Most importantly, the day gives mentees an opportunity to use their voices for the benefit of the programs that are so vital to them, and to see just how powerful and influential they can be as well.
This year, when you register to attend Youth Mentoring Day, bring your matches with you. It will be worth the effort.
To set up a legislative meeting, email Elena Sokolow-Kaufman. If you're interested in attending Youth Mentoring Day (note - it's free!), you may register at this link. We take photos at this event, so all attendees should fill out this photo release form and fax to Lauren Winfree, 617.695.2435.