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Thanks to mentors

The importance of having a good mentor at any stage of life — whether it’s in childhood, teenage years, college years, the workforce or even in retirement — cannot be overstated.

It is, perhaps, more important in the younger years. Children need a variety of adults they can look up to and identify with on some level, whether those adults are parents or other family members, teachers, other school staff, clergy or other community members.

Suffolk is fortunate to have a group such as Enlightened Minds Mentoring, which helps provide positive male role models to young men in elementary through high school. The program expanded to Booker T. Washington Elementary School earlier this year, and young men in the program recently held their Dress for Greatness luncheon to reflect on the progress they’ve made.

The young men got dressed up and got a lunch provided by The Mount Suffolk, with Minister Karl Wilkins in attendance. Enlightened Minds Mentoring Chief Executive Officer Albert Hill was in attendance, as well as other mentors including Russell Barnes, David Pope, Bruce Williams and Damian Taylor. Superintendent Dr. Deran Whitney was also on hand for the event.

The young men reviewed what they want to be when they grew up. Some chose professional athletes, military service or professional gamers.

Hill said it’s all about rewarding the students for positive actions. “The more you award positive behavior, the more they are going to want to do it,” he said. Later, he added, “We have to break the cycle of negativity of behavior … and replace that with positive behavior.”

These mentors, and many others who work with young people throughout the city, should be commended for taking time from their lives to make an impact on our youth. Their efforts will certainly pay dividends in the future.