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Why Mentoring Matters– Both to Children and Adults Alike

vmp_primary_logo_vertJanuary is National Mentoring Month, which is cool on many fronts, but mostly because a local baby has been born in our community whose mission is to foster mentoring relationships between young women and their more experienced counterparts.  This “baby” is Virago, a new program falling under the Bridge Project, coordinated by Life Coach Tracy Shamberger, here in Lincoln Woodstock, NH.   Virago is Latin for female warrior.  Recently, my role on this new Board of Directors was to develop language around “Who Benefits from Mentoring” for our brochure.  When my bulleted list of beneficiaries was clearly too long for a brochure, I came to following conclusion:  Everyone benefits from good mentors in our lives.  Honestly, why wouldn’t you want to give your child another adult they could build a positive, healthy relationship with?  Someone to build trust?  Someone to turn to with any kind of concern or crisis, especially one she might not want to bridge with a parent?

Mentoring does not only benefit children from more complex family dynamics.   In fact, my own parents were awesome– and available– and supportive without being pushy.  However, I was lucky enough to build relationships with other strong women, including teachers and coaches in early adolescence, and later more experienced colleagues and leaders within my work community. Mentors help us to develop own potential before we are even aware we need it.  When we examine the school culture of bullying or at risk behaviors or– even more daunting– school violence, the number one risk factor is whether our kids feel attached to their community.  Mentors help to build this attachment for all kinds of kids.

Lin-Wood School elementary special educator and Virago Board Member, Paula King, got involved because, “Everyone needs someone they can trust with all their secrets (the good, the bad, and even the ugly).  I always had friends who were there through my darkest days, and I want to help girls who might not have those friends or someone they can go to as a safe haven.”

Nikki Donahue, one of Virago’s Project Managers and biggest promoters, grew up in this community.  “I feel the Virago Mentor Program is important for young girls in the Lincoln/Woodstock area so that they have a positive role model to look to when things get tough. Growing up, I was always very close with my mom but I was the oldest sister and sometimes there were things I just didn’t want to talk to my mom about.  Mentors can be a second set of ears to run issues past and can just aid in the creation of confident young women in the Lincoln/Woodstock area. It’s taken a lot of hard work on the part of six very dedicated women to get this program off the ground; but our first mentee/mentor pairs have met this past week and set up future bi-weekly meetings. It was amazing to see how excited both the mentor and mentee were about moving forward and getting to spend time together.”

Margarita Dufresne, a catalyst for Virago, owner of Live a Little Fitness and local energy icon, shared her WHY for rolling out this new mentoring program: “My life changed the moment I met my mentor.  As I child, my world was filled with turmoil, drug addiction, and death. My father was addicted to heroin, and the night my brother was conceived was the night he contracted HIV. While the storm of chaos and anger raged around me, I literally thought, this was life. I thought the entire world did drugs, lived to merely survive and just scrape by.   But the moment I met my mentor was the moment my world began to brighten. She showed me a whole other world. A world where people had hobbies. Where people went to the gym and a world which people not just survived but thrived. In this world, people supported each other and they all seemed to actually live their life. I now could see there was more.”

Our vision: “We envision strong, courageous, and confident young women in our community.”

Our mission: The Virago Girls Mentor Program empowers young women with
coping strategies and confidence to make healthy decisions when faced with a variety of challenges. We connect young women with the resources needed to not only survive adolescence, but to thrive within it.”

We even have a pledge, which personally I find to particularly awesome.

Take the Pledge:

“I pledge to empower and support every woman I meet. I pledge that I will greet every woman with kindness and compassion because we don’t know what they have been through. I pledge, from here on out, to leave cattiness and pettiness behind me. I am STRONG. I am BRAVE. I am COURAGEOUS, and I am US. We are Female Warriors. We are Virago!!”

So, again, if you are curious about “What Young Woman Would Benefit From Mentoring?”

 

Repeat after me: All of them.

But if you still aren’t sure YOUR  daughter, step daughter, granddaughter, niece, etc. would benefit, check out these questions.

  1. Is she in 4th-8th grade?
  2. Does she seem to want to talk but not to a parent at home?

  3. Does she lack confidence?

  4. Does she crave acceptance?

  5. Does she struggle making decisions?

  6. Does she second guess decisions she does make?

  7. Does she allow her peers to treat her unkindly or disrespectfully?

  8. Does she seem secretive about relationships with boyfriends or girlfriends?

  9. Does she send sexualized text messages to others?

  10. Does she act clingy or needy for “someone her age”?

  11. Does she frustrate easily?

  12. Does she feel overwhelmed by school or social situations or life in general?

  13. Does she demonstrate body image issues?

  14. Does she need better coping skills?

  15. Does she put herself down?

  16. Does she need more ears around to listen?

For more information, check out Virago or to access the application.

 

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