Racine area residents looking to give back to their community may want to consider an opportunity to mentor at-risk youth.
Mentor Kenosha & Racine (Mentor KR) is a collaborative effort by the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, Kenosha Unified and s and the Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention. The program provides mentors for at-risk middle school students.
A Workforce Development Center and UW-Parkside joint study revealed some disturbing statistics about youth in the community that prompted the creation of the program, said David Power, Racine Unified Mentor Coordinator.
The highlights of the study indicated that:
- Only 20 percent of youth feel that they are valued by adults in the community
- Only 23 percent of youth have adult role models that exhibit responsible behavior
- 39 percent of youth can resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations
- Only 24 percent of youth experience positive family communication
- Only 23 percent of Racine County youth report reading for pleasure
“The goals of Mentor KR are to improve academic achievement of middle school students and decrease the frequency and amount of juvenile crime, gang involvement and truancy,” Power said. “It also helps improve self-esteem of middle school students and provides positive role models and additional support for middle school students.”
Mentors usually meet with students once a week for an hour during their school day. During that time, mentors assist students with homework, set positive goals, play an interesting game, share a hobby or interest and provide a friendly ear, Power said. The commitment is for the academic school year.
“Mentor KR mentors are people from across the spectrum of community life,” Power said. “We have business people, city and county people, retired people, moms and dads and college students. A mentor is not a teacher or counselor, but rather a caring adult and positive role model who wants to help children build self-esteem, stay in school and stay out of trouble.”
Mentor KR currently has 23 active matches in Unified middle schools but has opportunities at all middle schools, Power said. Most often, Extended Day Programming (Lighted Schoolhouse) time in the morning and afternoon is used for mentoring.
Students are recommended for participation by social workers, classroom teachers and counselors through an assessment of environmental and personal risk factors, Power said. They are then paired with a mentor who has been screened by Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
Think you could make a difference in the life of a Racine Unified student? Apply by clicking on this link:
Power is a former Racine Unified teacher who has seen the difference positive relationships can have in the lives of kids. He will here on Patch, telling stories about the relationships and success stories that come out of these hours.