As an adult, when you look at all the stuff a child learns in the early years of their lives, it's exhausting to think about, right? From learning to crawl and walk, to learning to communicate, play with others, express feelings, handle their emotions, and knowing right from wrong... kids go through tremendous development spurts throughout their young lives! As a mentor, you get to walk alongside your mentee while they are still growing and developing, and learning who they are as an individual! It's a roller coaster of a ride at times, but how exciting to know that you get to have a positive impact on their development as a person?
This month I wanted to delve into the topic of Youth Development, which "focuses on activities that nurture the youth’s assets rather than on reducing particular risks or preventing specific problems." (quote from article linked below). In this email I will provide a short overview of the 5 C's of Youth Development, but feel free to check out the article from the United States Department of Education for some more in-depth learning!
1. Competence: Positive view of one’s skills and abilities, including social, academic, cognitive, personal, and vocational.
A child who understands they are competent in their various skills, is a child who will thrive in life! As a mentor, you can help your mentee grow in their competence by recognizing the strengths and abilities they already have, as well as helping them find new interests they may have and work with them to become engaged and skilled in those areas as well.
2. Confidence: The internal sense of overall positive self-worth, identity, and belief in the future.
We ALL know how important having self-confidence is, even as an adult. Or maybe, especially as an adult! Recognizing your worth is so important to youth development, especially as it relates to friendships, relationships, and goals for their futures. As a mentor, you can nurture your mentees confidence by encouraging their dreams and helping them set goals to achieve those dreams. By praising their talents and strengths they already possess, and helping them practice those talents. "As you get to know your mentee’s skills and interests, think of ways that these can be nurtured to increase self-confidence. Start with praise and reinforcement when you see him excel or take a positive action in something. Then find ways to get him to think beyond the immediate moment."
3. Connection: : Positive bonds with people and institutions, including peers, family, school, and community, that provide a sense of membership, safety, and belonging.
"These bonds create a sense of membership and belonging that increases self-confidence, encourages community participation, and offers safety and support." As a mentor, you are already providing a point of connection with your mentee within the community! If you are a Community Kids mentor, this is another way for you to build their connection to the community - through the things you do with your mentee that shows them what Waupun and the surrounding areas have to offer! By taking your mentee to the Library, the Horicon Marsh, Tom Dooley's, or volunteering at the Community Table or Meals on Wheels, you are showing your mentee how to be an engaged community member, and they are learning vital life skills as well!
4. Character: Recognition of societal and cultural rules, a sense of responsibility and accountability for one’s actions, personal values, spirituality, and integrity.
"Young people develop character through their connections with individuals and groups that provide examples and lessons for them. Young people receive many messages about right and wrong, responsibility, integrity, loyalty, faith, and social and cultural expectations as they develop. Their developmental task is to decide which messages have the most meaning for them and how to internalize a set of personal values they will live by."
As a mentor you can help your mentee develop their character by discussing your personal values and beliefs, and showing those beliefs through your actions during your meetings. You can also be a listening ear when they need to discuss moral or ethical issues. Don't forget about your boundaries though, and if a topic makes you uncomfortable (politics, religion, relationships, sex/intimacy) be sure to kindly, but firmly, acknowledge the boundary and move to another topic.
5. Caring/Compassion: A sense of sympathy and empathy for others, leading to a desire to contribute.
"Care and compassion are important motivators for becoming involved in community life, volunteering, and offering support to friends and family in times of need."
A great way to exemplify caring and compassion to your mentee is through doing volunteer work in your community together! Not only are you giving your mentee connections and honing their character, but you are also showing them what it means to give back to those in need. Just as you volunteer your time to invest in your relationship with your mentee, they will see how important it is to continue that cycle and hopefully one day be a volunteer themselves!
To learn more about the 5 C's, use the link below! There are two prior articles on Youth Development linked in the article as well. We hope you find them informative and helpful!
It seems like finances is a topic that a person either loves or hates. It can be boring and overwhelming to some, but to others it can be exciting and motivating. Regardless, I think we can all agree that finances are important. When working with youth, it’s crucial to speak of finances positively.
According to The Children’s Defense Fund (2018), “1 in 6 children in America live in poverty- making them the poorest age group in the country”. Children are considered poor if they live in a family with an annual income below the Federal Poverty Line of $25,701 for a family of four. (Children’s Defense Fund, 2018). The impact of being poor as a child can have lasting lifelong impacts. Poor children are more likely to have poor academic performance, drop out of high school and later become unemployed, experience economic hardship and be involved in the criminal justice system. Children who experience poverty are also more likely to be poor at age 30 than children who never experience poverty.
What can we do to ensure our youth are financially prepared? Teach them! “Young People still need to be taught the basics,” says Dan Kadlec, contributor to TIME Magazine and Rightaboutmoney.com. “Live within your means, pay yourself first, save 15% of what you earn. These are timeless values that technology can help with – but only once you understand the need and set a plan into motion.” (How to Teach Kids about Money, 2020)
If you know a youth that could benefit from financial literacy take a look at this article. It has great information on how to teach kids about money beginning as a toddler throughout their teen years.
It’s a new year! I’m sure many of us are more than happy to leave 2020 behind and start fresh. I wish it were that simple, but reality tells us that we will have to continue being patient with our ever changing environment for at least a bit longer. I want to thank all of our mentors for being so resilient and doing what they can to maintain a relationship with their mentee through such uncertain times. Your impact is so important.
While much of this last year has been slow, it has allowed the staff at REACH to reflect and determine where we need to focus going forward. Some of our goals this year include: enhanced virtual mentor training, a robust REACH One curriculum, monthly activities featured at The 101, and more planned “outings” (field trips, tours, etc.) for the REACH One matches.
REACH is beyond fortunate to have amazing volunteers and faithful donors that together make an impact in many youth’s lives. We are grateful for your continued patience as we navigate our way through the pandemic and we are so eager to reunite with everyone and share with you what REACH has been working on.
Happy New Year, everyone!
In October 2020, The Institute for Research on Poverty University of Wisconsin-Madison published the 2018 Wisconsin Poverty Report. This was the Twelfth Annual Report of the Wisconsin Poverty Project and it came with some interesting findings.
The Wisconsin Poverty Measure was developed to show whether families in Wisconsin have the necessary income to meet their basic needs. There are three different measures used for estimating poverty. The three measures are: the market income poverty measure (MIP), which is based on market (private) income only; the Census Bureau’s official poverty measure (OPM), which adds in the value of public cash benefits; and the Wisconsin Poverty Measure (WPM), which takes into account not only cash benefits but also noncash benefits and taxes.
The report found that poverty in Wisconsin was at 10.6% in 2018, an increase from 10.2% in 2017. This finding is significant because this was also the longest economic expansion on record; therefore, poverty should be decreasing. The report determined that rising costs of child care and medical expenses contributed to higher poverty rates. Moreover, increasing payroll tax and limited income supports reduced the safety net’s (FoodShare, Medicaid, etc.) ability to pull Wisconsin households out of poverty.
A rise in poverty, especially for children, is disheartening. REACH Waupun recognizes and understands the barriers that can make it difficult for families to pull themselves out of poverty. We try to come alongside them to provide resources and programming that will not only bring about positive, lasting change in the lives of the children, but families overall. To learn more about our programming please visit our website at reachwaupun.org.
- Darian Schmitz
There is an argument for either side, but the latest Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma” made waves as it exposed some of the dangerous impacts of social media, especially on our youth.
“The Social Dilemma” makes a case that companies are able to manipulate online users through algorithms. Essentially every move that a user makes online is tracked and recorded via data that is then used to continually engage the user, provide personalized recommendations, and influence thoughts and actions.
As an adult, this made me think twice about my actions online, but what about our youth? In an article published on Inc.com by activist, Melanie Curtin, the latest research is showing that on average a child gets their first smartphone by age 10. By age 12, 50 percent of children have social media accounts (primarily Facebook and Instagram).
Why is this problematic? Adolescence is a critical period in a person’s life where much of their cognitive development occurs. According to The University of Rochester Medical Center, children grow in the way they think from ages 12-18 in the following ways: Develop their own view of the world, increase their capacity to think in complex ways, and increase their ability to consider possibilities and facts in decision-making.
If it is true that many of our youth are engaging in social media throughout their vulnerable developmental years, we must hope that the information they are acquiring is positive, factual, and kind. I think all of us can agree that social media is not always all of those things.
So what can we do? The University of Rochester Medical Center suggests encouraging healthy cognitive growth for youth through the following ways: Include them in discussions about a variety of topics, encourage them to share ideas and thoughts, encourage them to think independently and develop their own ideas, help them set goals, challenge them to think about possibilities for the future, compliment and praise them for well-thought-out decisions, and help them re-evaluate poorly made decisions. If this is a topic that interests you, I highly recommend viewing “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix.
Thank you for your time and enjoy the beautiful Wisconsin fall weather!
September was National Suicide Prevention month, with Thursday the 10th being World Suicide Prevention Day. My hope is that this article is not the first time you are hearing of this as the news and social media have done a good job at shedding light on this serious mental health crisis.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) WISQARS Leading Causes of Death Reports, suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34 in 2018. Moreover the Washington Post cited that from 2007 to 2017, the number of suicides among people ages 10 to 24 increased 56 percent. This data is alarming to say the least. Not only is it worrisome that suicide is on the rise among our youth, but it is also scary that experts do not know why this is happening. Some theories point to lack of sleep, bullying, social media, and drugs, but the problem is too complex to name just one cause.
The best way to combat this mental health crisis is to be informed. Knowing the signs of a teen in crisis is critical. Stanford Children’s Health lists these warning signs: Noticeable changes in eating or sleeping habits, unexplained or unusually severe, violent, or rebellious behavior, withdrawal from family or friends, sexual promiscuity, truancy, and vandalism, drastic personality change, agitation, restlessness, distress, or panicky behavior, talking or writing about committing suicide, even jokingly, giving away prized possessions, and/or doing worse in school.
If you notice any of the warning signs listed above here is what you can do:
If you or someone you know is in suicidal crisis or emotional distress, call the 24-hour, toll-free, confidential, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Our kiddos are headed back to school! Although our current environment can be cause for concern, our children will benefit greatly from getting to see their friends and teachers again. It is miraculous what a sense of loving community can provide a child in need.
The CDC recently published an article that supported the need for children to return to school this Fall. It shed light on the significant short-and long term social, emotional, and behavioral health, economic well-being, and academic achievement impacts on students if schools remain closed. The article also highlighted the disproportionate harm caused to low-income and minority children and those living with disabilities, because these populations typically do not have access to private instruction and the care they need. Many of these children depend on the school system to provide food, special education services, counseling, and after-school programs. Furthermore, school can provide a sense of safety and community for children that need it most which has been proven to lower levels of depression, thoughts about suicide, social anxiety, and sexual activity, as well as higher levels of self-esteem and more adaptive use of free time.
I want to take a moment to thank our REACH One mentor volunteers who dedicate their time to helping children feel safe and connected to a caring adult. Our staff knows that it has not been easy to navigate your relationships through this pandemic, but know you are truly making a difference and potentially saving a child’s life.
I encourage anyone who wants to know more about the benefits of children returning to school to read the CDC’s article titled “The Importance of Reopening America’s Schools this Fall”. Have a wonderful end to summer and stay safe!