MILLEDGEVILLE — LaVance Hurt didn’t originally set out to become a mentor, but his personal journey eventually led him in that direction. However the course of his path, the young people whose lives he impacts are certainly appreciative of his efforts.
The local man was recently recognized as this year’s Georgia Big Brother of the Year for his hours spent dedicated to shaping and influencing local youth in a positive way.
Just like Hurt we can all wield this kind of impact.
Oftentimes when we hear of the issues facing our youth today our focus shifts to the problems themselves and not solutions — or who or where or how others can initiate the necessary change — what others can do. The fact is we all have a part to play and we can all do something.
According to a long-term study on Big Brothers Big Sisters participants through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, students who meet regularly with their mentors are 52 percent less likely than their peers to skip a day of school and 37 percent less likely to skip a class. Those with a mentor are significantly more confident in their academic abilities and considerably less likely to display behavioral problems.
Even if you don’t have a school-aged child, chances are you know one and can reach one simply by giving of your time and expressing an interest — through a church, non-profit or civic organization.
Mentoring doesn’t take much. There are few major requirements: just an hour or so a week and a willingness to listen and become a part of a young person’s life.
Studies indicate that children who have mentors or strong positive relationships with at least one adult are more likely go to school more often, get higher grades and get along with others better. Yet, many children lack this type of positive influence from an adult in their lives.