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National Mentoring Month is Over But the Need Continues

2/11/2002:   In Greek history, Mentor was a friend of Odysseus entrusted with the education of Odysseus' son Telemachus. Today, we have come to know a mentor as a tutor, coach, or teacher. Greek rulers aside, mentoring is the presence of caring individuals who, along with parents or guardians, provide youth with support, advice, friendship, reinforcement and constructive example that help youth from all circumstances succeed.

The National Mentoring Partnership (www.mentoring.org ) is an advocate for the expansion of mentoring and a resource for mentors and mentoring initiatives nationwide. In January, The National Mentoring Partnership in conjunction with The Harvard Mentoring Project (www.hsph.harvard.edu/chc/mentoringmonth/), launched National Mentoring Month, a month-long program dedicated to making mentoring a national priority. And while the month of January is over, the need for mentors continues.

Research has shown that introducing a mentor into a young person's life can play a powerful role in preventing drug abuse and youth violence, while greatly enhancing a young person's prospects for leading a fulfilling and productive life. Mentoring programs in communities across the country, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, have waiting lists of young people seeking to be matched with volunteer mentors.

Created by a coalition of nonprofit organizations and leading communications companies, National Mentoring Month included a combination of national media, local media, and extensive community outreach. The national TV and print ads included the campaign's toll-free number (888-432-MENTOR) and web address (www.mentoring.org) to enable individuals to obtain information about mentoring programs in their own communities that need volunteers.

Who Mentored You?

As part of the program, the campaign encouraged people to think about individuals in their own lives who offered them support and guidance and helped them become who they are today. The slogan "Who mentored you?" hopes to inspire people to thank those in their lives who have made a difference and pass this gift on to a kid who needs a mentor in their lives.

The campaign's national television ads were produced by HBO. In keeping with the strong desire on the part of many Americans to do something meaningful to help the country, especially at this time, the ads feature young people of different ethnic backgrounds speaking directly to the camera about their hopes and dreams. The ads close with a tag line encouraging adults to "help them get there" by volunteering as a mentor.

To view the television PSAs and print ads, and to find out how to obtain copies of these materials, as well as the National Mentoring Month logo visit www.hsph.harvard.edu/chc/mentoringmonth/.

Leading national participants include AOL Time Warner, the ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC television networks. Other participants in the campaign include the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (Media Match Program), the U.S. Department of Justice (JUMP Grants Program), and National Association of Broadcasters.

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