100% Otero, part of the 100% New Mexico initiative, is working to ensure 100% of Otero County families and residents have access to ten vital services for survival and thriving. Survival services include medical/dental care, behavioral health care, food, housing, and transportation. Thriving services include parent support, early childhood learning, community schools, youth mentors, and job training. Youth Mentoring team members have been working to identify barriers and issues that prevent young people from engaging in mentoring activities and create an environment where those barriers are diminished.
in the 100% Otero County Survey Report: Identifying Barriers to Vital Services, 2020, reasons were identified that made accessing mentoring services challenging. Barriers include closed offices/schools due to COVID-19, families feeling that available program(s) are not right for their child, not knowing how to access services, and not feeling comfortable with their child interacting with someone they don’t know well. With those challenges in mind, our youth mentoring team created goals that would help break down those barriers.
The team’s first goal is to support our existing local youth mentoring programs and to fill gaps. It is important that we have numerous and diverse mentors that reflect our local population and needs. A variety of mentoring opportunities exist in our county, including informal activities such as scouting and 4-H, sports teams, religious organizations, and school clubs.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a nationally recognized best practice program which serves over 200 children in Otero County. Brenda Dorsey, Vice President of Rural Programs for Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS), is a member of our /team and has worked tirelessly to increase participation in the program. BBBS of Otero County is open Monday through Friday from 7 am to 3:30 pm at 906 Virginia Avenue. If you have a child aged 6 to 14 who needs a mentor or could use a special friend, contact BBBS. If you are an adult who is available one hour a week to support youth in Otero County, please contact BBBS at 575-708-0716.
The second goal is to create a community campaign to increase awareness about the benefits of mentoring at all ages. Each January, MENTOR National (www.mentoring.org) and community partners “unite in celebration of National Mentoring Month and use the power of a collective voice to recruit new mentors, advance the mentoring field’s legislative priorities, and drive meaningful change for young people .” The month-long celebration of mentoring is full of opportunities to grow the mentoring movement and raise awareness about the power of relationships.
For the second year in a row, the 100% Otero Youth Mentoring team will share National Mentoring month messages via social media platforms and our community partners. We invite everyone to celebrate with us. On Jan. 11 in honor of “I Am a Mentor Day” recognize yourself for the mentor you have been to the young people in your life. On Jan. 16 participate in the activities available in our community for Dr. Martin Luther King’s Day of Service. On Jan. 26 take a moment to thank those who have mentored you in the celebration of “Thank Your Mentor Day.”
Mentoring is an important component of positive youth development, promoting academic success, engagement in extracurricular activities, and connections to new opportunities. MENTOR National’s research indicates that “one in three young people in America are growing up without a mentor outside their family.” When we grow the mentoring movement, we have a chance to close the mentoring gap and increase young people’s access to caring adults. MENTOR National’s research also shows “the majority of Americans agree that mentoring relationships are powerful tools for connection and are critical for our country’s future.” Nearly nine in 10 people feel that more mentoring is needed in our country—with more than eight in 10 supporting the use of government funds to grow mentoring opportunities.
We encourage all community members to support mentoring programs by volunteering to be a mentor, supporting funding for mentorship programs, and encouraging the young people in your life to participate in mentoring programs. If you would like to participate in this effort or need further information, email 100% Otero at [email protected].
This article originally appeared on Carlsbad Current-Argus: Youth mentoring in Otero County