By CHRIS WARD
Your Voice Contributor
There is a real shortage of mentors for the young people in our great city. There are so many kids out there who could benefit substantially from a positive adult role model in their life. Many outcomes can be altered if we as a community become invested in the lives of our middle and high school students, many of whom for varying reasons may not have
had the most stable home life situations on a day-to-day basis.
Research tells us that at-risk students who enter into a mentor-mentee relationship are less likely to experience educational failure, drop out of school or become involved in various criminal activities. The role of the mentor is to share experiences, give advice, provide friendship and support, and help the student develop. The mentor can also provide the student with a realistic perspective of life after high school and possibly college graduation.
The relationship between a mentor and a mentee can provide many benefits to both parties involved. Mentoring gives the satisfaction of making a difference in the life of a young person and can help enhance the mentor’s leadership and coaching skills. The mentor may also very well learn a thing or two from the mentee. For the mentee, the benefits include having positive adult contact that can provide a resource for advice and wisdom, improved self-confidence, exposure to different perspectives and experiences and simply having a role model that he or she can access.
As a proud graduate of two Leadership Louisville Center programs (Ignite Louisville Class of 2010 and Leadership Louisville Class of 2012), I have had a great opportunity to learn a significant amount about our community and all of the cool things that happen here. I also have learned that there are an abundance of ways that you can make a difference in the community and give back to our great city. One of those ways is to become a mentor to a deserving youth.
A component of the Ignite Louisville program is the Yum! IGNITES Louisville Challenge, during which the class is divided into different teams. Each team partners with a local nonprofit agency to assist with both short-term and long-term needs. During my participation in 2010, I was part of a team of six individuals who were instrumental in forming a new non-profit organization, Passionate About Kids (PAK). PAK is dedicated to developing and providing targeted programs in college preparation, career skills and mentoring for students, with the goal of helping students transition to post-education life by improving self-esteem, social competence and academic achievement.
Through our work with PAK, my team developed a passion for serving our community and learned the importance of mentoring our city’s youth. In the short history of PAK, we have worked with Jefferson County Public Schools and are currently in discussions to partner with another local non-profit agency, to provide mentoring-type programming to their program participants. If you would like to learn more about Passionate About Kids, please contact the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please consider becoming a “rock star” to one of the deserving children in our community. I strongly encourage you to enter into a rewarding mentoring relationship that could positively impact the future of an at-risk youth.
Chris Ward is a CPA and partner in the accounting firm, Deming, Malone, Livesay & Ostroff. He currently serves as board president of Passionate About Kids, Inc. Chris was a member of the Leadership Louisville Class of 2012 and the Ignite Louisville Class of 2010. He was named to Business First’s Forty Under 40 list in 2011. Chris resides in eastern Jefferson County with his wife and two daughters.