Be Someone Who Matters to Someone Who Matters was the theme of National Mentoring Month in January.

A recent national survey of young people commissioned by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, showed that 4.5 million of at-risk youth will be matched in mentoring relationships through mentoring programs while they are growing up.

Another 10.5 million at-risk young people have informal mentoring relationships with neighbors, teachers, coaches or extended family members.

The survey also showed how one in three at-risk youth will reach adulthood without connecting with a mentor of any kind, and that with each additional risk factor a young adult experiences, the less likely he or she is to connect with an informal mentor.

Youth who have a mentor are more likely to enroll and graduate from college; more likely to participate in sports, clubs or other extracurricular activities; more likely to assume a leadership position in clubs, teams, school or other groups; and are more likely to volunteer than those youth who have no mentoring relationship.

Be Someone Who Matters – A positive relationship with a caring adult helps kids stay in school, improves a young person’s self-esteem, decreases the likelihood of becoming involved in risky behaviors, engages youth in safe activities during free time and, moreover, lets a young person know they are Someone Who Matters.

Be Someone Who Matters – It is fun; it can change your life and bridge the generation gap. Time spent with a young person is an investment in the future; you will be surprised at what you can learn, and most importantly, millions of kids need a mentor and every child is Someone Who Matters.

Be Someone Who Matters to Someone Who Matters. Become a mentor through one of Northfield’s mentoring programs or develop a friendship with a child in your neighborhood. Every young person matters.

For more information on becoming a mentor, contact the Northfield Healthy Community Initiative at 507.664.3524 or email info@northfieldhci.org.

Linda Oto is Youth Development coordinator for Northfield Public Schools Community Services division and coordinates the Connected Kids mentoring program. This column appears as part of a quarterly feature supported by Northfield Healthy Community Initiative.