Nearly one in five youth live in poverty and are at risk of falling prey to crime, drugs and other hurdles that could keep them from reaching productive adulthood, obtaining an education and successfully entering the workforce. Also, research shows that youth are more likely to succeed with the support of a caring adult, said Donna San Salvador, program director at Lehigh Acres Reach & Rise, who works out of the YMCA in Fort Myers.
In an effort to help more kids and teens achieve, the Fort Myers YMCA has begun training the first group of mentors to be matched with youth living in Lehigh Acres, ages 6-17. This national YMCA program, supported by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), connects youth ages 6 to 17 with adult mentors for 12-18 months San Salvador said.
As part of the Y's commitment to nurturing the potential of youth, the Fort Myers YMCA's Reach & Rise Mentoring Program will engage at-risk Lehigh Acres youth who lack role models and are challenged by poverty, crime, truancy and single-parent households, among other social issues. Through this program, the Y recruits and trains adult volunteer mentors to provide direct one-to-one mentoring services and create safe, healthy and meaningful relationships with youth.
"The Fort Myers YMCA is excited to begin matching youth for the Reach & Rise Mentoring Program in the month of July, inspiring them to reach their full potential," San Salvador, director of the mentoring program.
The Reach & Rise Mentoring Program was recently implemented as part of a national expansion, the Fort Myers YMCA is one of 38 Ys now offering the program, and Lehigh Acres was the only community in Florida to be chosen for this opportunity, she said.
"We will have four matched youth by August-but we need additional mentors," she emphasized.
To make the program successful, she said she needs more adults aged 23 plus to volunteer and train to be mentors for these important children.
San Salvador said she would be happy to discuss details of the opportunity to change a child's life with yours. To learn more, contact San Salvador, at (941)468-1187 or to become a mentor go online at: www.swflymca.org/mentor.