Mentors Needed – Even One At-Risk Child Is Too Many

Become a CFMC Mentor Today and Change a Life

Written by: Robin Reid, Storyteller/Content Manager

Not every child in Morgan County has a stable home environment where they’re loved, accepted, encouraged, or have adults to trust and rely on. As a result, some turn to negative influences such as drugs, crime, or dropping out of school and face a tougher, uphill battle in life.

We also have kids in our community facing these issues every day.  These children are:

… coming to school hungry. Reported by Shelby Wilson, Executive Director of the Martinsville Youth & Development Center (MYDC), 52% of Martinsville students participated in the free or reduced lunch program during the 2017-2018 school year compared to 28% reported in 2008.

… homeless. They’re either living in shelters or “couch hopping” in homes of friends or families. Bob Goodrum, Executive Director of WellSpring, reported 15 to 18 percent of Morgan County children were living in poverty and in 2017, there were as many as 450 homeless students in the Martinsville school system.

… being neglected. In the 2018 Indiana Kids Count Data Book, the Indiana Youth Institute (IYI) reported there were 132 local “Children in Need of Services” which meant they were neglected or abused or were not receiving necessary care/treatment. There were 113 child neglect cases according to the Indiana Department of Children Services and 112 juvenile delinquency case filings, with eight juveniles committed to the Indiana Department of Correction.

… contemplating or committing suicide. Indiana youth are significantly more likely to consider or attempt suicide than their peers throughout the United States. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for children ages 15-24 and the fourth leading cause of death for kids ages 5-14.  According to IYI, 57 kids ages 19 and younger committed suicide in 2016.

… being bullied, either at school or online. IYI reported 18.7% of Indiana high school students were bullied while at school last year. When kids are online, either on their phone or checking social media on their computer, 15.7% of high school students across Indiana reported they were cyberbullied (sending or posting negative, damaging, or false content about someone else, causing embarrassment or humiliation). Girls were more likely to be cyberbullied, 20.6% compared to 11%, male.

CFMC is thankful for these mentors at Paul Hadley Middle School who invest in students’ lives.

As a Morgan County community of parents, guardians, families, friends, government-business-non-profit leaders, it’s time for us to stand and say, “Enough is enough!”

The solution to any problem is acknowledging there is an issue and finding effective ways to tackle it head-on. All kids need stable, healthy, trustworthy adults they can depend on to help them find hope and answers during these difficult times.

The Community Foundation of Morgan County (CFMC) is spearheading an effort to make a difference in the lives of our school-aged kids.  In partnership with our local schools, and Bradford Woods, CFMC believes every child deserves a chance to be successful in life, no matter their circumstance.

In 2017, we kicked off a lunch mentoring program with over 50 community leaders spending their time with kids at John R. Wooden Middle School. After just the first informal lunch session, we found our kids are struggling with bullying, sex and drug abuse in their homes, cutting and other emotional issues, hunger, and even fresh drinking water. Mentors learned not much has changed since we were young as many students felt alone, and not part of the “in” crowd. What makes matters much worse today is social media and online sites have increased the level of stress and anxiety kids feel about simply fitting in or being “cool”.

“Mentors help our students understand they’re not alone and life is all about handling what comes at us. Therefore, life is about developing coping skills, so we can successfully handle issues, pressures and opportunities that come our way. Mentors help students learn how to cope,” said Eric Bowlen, Principal at John R. Wooden Middle School.

When these kids go to school, their family issues follow them, making it harder for them to effectively learn and often interrupting a teacher’s ability to teach and manage the classroom. Overcoming life’s obstacles for these students adds another layer of complexity, and schools need our help.

CFMC is leading the way again through its Mentoring Program in connecting solid, trustworthy adults with our kids to ensure no one “slips through the cracks” at school. Our community must help itself and it starts with each one of us becoming more involved. “i” make a difference because each of us has something to give back!

Become a CFMC School Mentor. You can change a student’s life for the better by being someone they can trust, and who can teach them how to successfully overcome life hurdles. You don’t have to be perfect! None of us have been able to escape all the pain life often hands to us, but we’ve survived. That’s how you can relate to these kids. You can give them hope for a brighter future.

Never underestimate the impact you can have on a kid by just caring about who they are at that moment.

“After one of the lunch sessions, a kid came up and sat with me. He said he didn’t have any friends at school and hated coming to lunch.  He said he looked forward to coming to mentoring days because he’d at least have someone to talk to and didn’t feel so alone,” said Ed Kominowski, CFMC President.

Every child deserves the opportunity to live a healthy and productive life.

John R. Wooden Middle School (Martinsville) and Paul Hadley Middle School (Mooresville) have mentoring opportunities available now. Mentors attend training at either school to learn from the “top teachers” on how to engage with the students.

After training, mentors will be partnered with a teacher who will provide topics and questions in advance each month. Mentoring can happen any day of the week and is scheduled for 25-35 minutes. You can choose to either mentor once a month or every week.

Mentors are asked to commit their time for a full year as it takes time to build relationships, establish trust, and sow into the lives of students who are at risk of failing, not only in school, but also in life.

We’ve been given the opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of today’s students and future generations.

If you don’t, who will?

For more information on where and when to sign up as CFMC Mentor, please either email us at info@cfmconline.org or call 765-813-0003.

 

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