Students Mentor At-Risk Youth and Families


    By Becky Brock

    BYU students are changing children”s lives through service. One of the many service opportunities available is the 4-H Mentoring Program, a one-on-one mentoring program for at-risk youth.

    Students serve as individual mentors to children aged ten to fourteen, whom they call their mentees. The mentors also work with the child”s family, make life-changing differences.

    Each time mentors meet with the youth, they focus on communication, developing interpersonal skills and making good decisions in their lives, said BYU 4-H Program Director, Jenny Christenson.

    “I think a lot of times with service we want to do big things … [but] I think what really matters is the one-by-one time when you can really make a difference in a life,” said mentor Mindy Nabrotzky. “I want to bring out the potential that she [her mentee] already has within her.”

    Each mentor has time to influence a child because they meet together once a week for a year. The mentors plan the activities, keeping the cost of each activity minimal.

    “We like to make cookies, play at the park and one time we made tinfoil boats and went to the duck pond and sailed them,” said mentor Kirtley Sorensen. “We”ve done service at the hospital and we”ve gone hiking.”

    There are many activities for mentors and the youth to participate in.

    Also, once a month there is “Family Night Out,” an activity for the whole family and the mentors.

    These activities help strengthen family relationships and the mentor”s relationship with the family.

    “We have a good relationship and I”ve gotten close to her mother as well,” Sorensen said about her mentee. “I feel like I”m totally involved in their lives now.”

    Students can get involved in the 4-H Mentoring Program anytime by signing up at the Center for Service and Learning.

    The 4-H Mentoring Program is independent of BYU and is run through Utah State University.

    “We partner with BYU because we need mentors and find your students are great mentors,” said 4-H Educator Lindsey Jewel. “They”re [students] at a time in their lives when they want to give back to the community and it”s good for their schedules where they can decide what days and what times they meet with their kids.”

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