January Is National Mentoring Month

15By Julianne Hagan, RD, RN, coordinator, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh University Middle School Mentoring Program, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC

Mentoring relationships are basic human connections that let a young person know that he or she matters. As parents, we are our children’s mentors, but other adult mentors have proven to be valuable as well.

Mentors can play a powerful role in providing young people with the tools to make responsible decisions, such as staying focused and engaged in school and reducing or avoiding risky behavior like skipping school, drug use, and other negative activities.

Mentoring Works:  Be Someone Who Matters to Someone Who Matters.

In a recent national report called The Mentoring Effect, young people who were at-risk for not completing high school but who had a mentor were 55 percent more likely to be enrolled in college than those who did not have a mentor.

They were also:

  • 52 percent less likely to skip school
  • 86 percent of children who are mentored go on to higher education
  • 58 percent of mentored students improve their grades
  • 81 percent more likely to report participating regularly in sports or extracurricular activities
  • 78 percent more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities
  • More than twice as likely to say they held a leadership position in a club or sports team

Mentoring happens everywhere — in structured programs and in everyday life. Everyday mentoring is the opportunity for adults to mentor and support youth who are already in their lives. Through this more casual interaction, adults can be more intentional about how they positively impact the youth they see every day.

Being in a mentoring relationship with a young person provides a shared opportunity for learning and growth. In fact, many mentors say they are surprised and grateful for the experience because it is more rewarding than they imagined.

There are around 27,000 kids currently being mentored by more than 140 organizationsmentoring
in southwestern Pennsylvania. That’s something to celebrate this National Mentoring Month! Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC has many mentoring relationships, as I learned when I interviewed prospective mentors, many of whom wanted to be a mentor because having a mentor had been so important in their personal or professional life. At Children’s Hospital, employees mentor other employees, students, residents, and fellows, as well as middle school students in a mentoring program.

Children’s Hospital sponsors a mentoring program called Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh University (CHPU). Employees from Children’s meet with seventh- and eighth-grade students from Arsenal Middle School on Friday mornings at the hospital throughout the school year. Students travel to the hospital in vans, are met by CHPU staff, and are escorted to a classroom where they spend time in group learning activities and with their mentor. CHPU mentors spend time getting to know the students and sharing their work environments with them. Students are introduced to careers in health care, form self-affirming relationships with their mentor, and learn new skills.

During the year, CHPU students have many opportunities to learn and grow. The students go on a technology tour of the hospital, do a service project, and take health and safety classes such as:

  • Tech Smart 4 Kids Internet Safety
  • American Red Cross Babysitter’s Training
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) awareness
  • The importance of hand washing
  • CPR

CHPU mentors and instructors deserve our appreciation and thanks for taking time out of their busy workdays to spend time with middle school students! Thank you to the mentors and other staff who make the mentoring program possible. A special thanks to the CHPU mentors who are listed below:

Carolyn Biglow
Lindsay Bromberg
Kelly Butler
Jessica Higgins
Alex Hill
Sara Hodges
Alanna Kanawalsky
John Krysinsky
Kathi Kulka
Elizabeth Moneck
Harun Rashid
Sheryl Rosen
Annette Seelhorst
Tonja Smith

There is still a need for mentors in our community.  A total of 815 kids are on waiting lists for a mentor in the Pittsburgh area. Now is the perfect time to volunteer with a program and help eliminate the wait for mentors.

To learn more about the many opportunities to be a mentor in Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas, please visit: The Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern Pennsylvania

For more information on Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh University, please contact Danielle Williams at danielle.williams@chp.edu or Julianne Hagan at julianne.hagan@chp.edu.