Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Call for Action - Mentor and Make a Difference while Serving Your Community


It is time for ordinary citizens, like you and me, to make a difference. It is time to get involved and become a mentor. We have much to share and it is time we passed on the lessons learned. It is time to voice your concerns and to take action on matters that are important to you. If your passion lies in helping young people to navigate the road to self sufficiency and satisfaction, please consider mentoring a youth with special needs while serving your community.

Youth with disabilities face significant challenges. Compared to other youth, they are:

• Twice as likely to drop out of high school and half as likely to attend or finish college. Those who do finish high school are more likely to have taken a less rigorous course load than their non-disabled peers.
• More likely to develop mental health impairments.
• More likely to have unintended pregnancies.
• Four times more likely to become involved in the juvenile justice system. (National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth, 2005)

Research shows that without adequate supports, youth in transition who have disabilities are more likely than their peers to:

• Live in poverty and be dependent on public assistance.
• Have chronic health problems, and lack comprehensive health insurance.
• Be unemployed or underemployed.
• Be dependent on family members for housing and finances.

Mentoring youth with disabilities while serving your community can serve multiple needs. In the relationship, you will engage them in community works, support them in their transition into adulthood, and give them an opportunity to explore their career interests. As a mentor, you will be making a difference in the life of the young adult and in the wellness of your community.

In the process of voicing your concerns, sharing your desires for change, you will also be modeling civic involvement and action. Your mentorship will encourage youth to also speak out, to be heard and to make a contribution in their communities. You will connect with the energy and idealism of our youth and offer your knowledge and experience.

I encourage you to take the call to action, to find opportunities to volunteer and to begin your search by typing in your zip code above. Please contact me if you need help in locating a mentee who shares your passion.

In 2009,

Will you:

  • Connect with your passion?
  • Share your love of learning?
  • Connect with youth to make a difference?

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