Mentoring to change a life

Published 7:04 pm Thursday, November 26, 2009

The statistics leave little room for misunderstanding. There is a crisis among youth in Suffolk and in a broader sense, in America.

According to the most recent surveys, more than 12 percent of students in Suffolk Public Schools dropped out of school without having earned a diploma. Schools are struggling to keep the pace with advancing standardized testing benchmarks.

Teen pregnancy, though on an apparent downward trend in recent years, still affects more than 30 out of every 1,000 girls between the ages of 10 and 19 in the city, a rate 10 percent higher than the state average. Gang activity is on the rise and, coupled with a growing Suffolk population, is likely to drive up crime statistics in years to come.

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Viewed through the lens of the statistics, things look pretty bleak right now for Suffolk’s youth. Through a different lens, however, adults in the area should see an opportunity, a chance — and a great need — to get involved in changing lives right here in Western Tidewater.

Many of the problems that youth face today are related to the rise in single-parent homes and the diminished influence that adults have on the lives of teens in our society. Far too many young boys, for instance, lacking a father in the home, have no male figure of authority to help them learn to become real men. To fill the vacuum that exists in their lives, these boys often choose male role models from among the gang and thug cultures that plague their communities.

A Franklin-based organization, the Millennial Mentoring Youth Academy — or Y2K Academy — is working to give responsible, caring adults in the area the chance to help turn lives around for some of those troubled youth in the area.

As an “academic support and workforce development mentoring program,” Y2K Academy works with youth who may be lacking in effective parental involvement, helping to develop character, social skills, healthy relationships and vocational skills and goals.

The group could use your help, and it will provide the training you will need to be a part of a young person’s support structure. You can be sure that it would be a rewarding commitment, and the long-term impacts to the community could be immeasurable.

To learn more, visit