The Importance of a Coach and Mentor in the Lives of Youth (Part Three)

In the last section of this three-part series we’ll look at the long-term benefits and positive outcomes of coaching and mentoring youth.  

Previously we pointed out the large amount of time youth are left unsupervised and the result of them finding less-than-ideal role models.  Through early intervention, coaches and mentors like Duluth, Minnesota boxing coach Chuck Horton are able to steer youth down a more desirable path.  By making them responsible for their actions, Horton is able to encourage positive behavior like attending school and staying sober.

Other organizations designed to match youth with mentors have seen similar success.  According to Public/Private Ventures study of Big Brothers Big Sisters, kids who meet regularly with mentors are 46% less likely to use illegal drugs, more likely to be active in school, and have a better/more communicative relationship with their parents.  

Horton is committed to helping young people in and outside of the gym.

Horton is committed to helping young people in and outside of the gym.

Coaches such as Horton help young people to develop goal-setting skills, increase self esteem, have better peer relationships, and reduce violence and risky behavior.  Horton’s expectation of seeing his athletes every day at the gym holds their feet to the fire.  This may be the first time these kids are being held accountable for themselves and their actions.  This new level of responsibility is a stepping stone to becoming a responsible adult.    

As students get older, mentors also help to guide them in college and career opportunities; perhaps going as far as helping with applications, cover letters, or résumés.  Without this guidance, many kids would find themselves adrift with a perception of nowhere to turn.  Or worse yet feel completely overwhelmed and just give up.

There is always the slight chance that a mentor will use his powers for evil instead of good.  He may show a less favorable route to success or give bad information.  After all, nothing in life is guaranteed.  But that doesn’t mean the slight risk should negate the substantial rewards of coaching and mentoring.

Overall I cannot emphasize enough the positive benefits of coaching and mentoring youth.  Programs like Horton’s give kids a chance to have constructive adult guidance, a well-rounded image of physical and mental health, a positive peer group, and a promising future.  If only every child had that.

Author: Roxanne Wilmes