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

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.