Thousands of children across Alberta are waiting to get mentors.
January is mentorship month and advocates from around the province are asking more Albertans to become mentors for young people in their community.
Volunteers are needed to help match over 2,956 children and youth waiting for a mentor in schools and community agencies across Alberta.
In Fort Saskatchewan, the Boys and Girls Club run two mentorship programs: Be a Buddy Community Mentoring Program, which takes place out of school for two hours a week, and In-School Mentoring Program, which takes place during school hours on school grounds for one hour each week.
The club has several adults, seniors and even high school students that are mentors for children, but they still need more. Right now, about 20 local kids are on a wait list to get a mentor.
"Everyone could use someone to look up to," explained Tammy Plamondon, coordinator of volunteer and school programs. "Some kids are just needing the extra attention and caring adult in their life."
Research has shown that children and youth who have the support of a mentoring relationship do better in school, go on to successful careers, give back to their communities and live happier, healthier lives. According to 2016 Population Lab Research on Alberta youth:
- 92% of mentees said mentoring increased their hope for the future
- 89% of mentees said mentoring increased their social skills
- 81% of mentees said mentoring helped them stay in school
Matches for the Boys and Girls Club mentorship programs are based on interests. Plamondon said this is beneficial to both the child and the mentor.
"We as adults get so busy in our jobs or whatever else that, even though we love some things, we don't necessarily always devote the time to it," she added. "It's building in regular time into your schedule to do something you enjoy - while sharing that activity with a youngster."
Anyone wishing to be a mentor in Fort Saskatchewan can contact the Boys and Girls Club to sign up.