The heart of the Partners program is the one-to-one mentor relationship. Mentoring is a timeless strategy for helping youth mature into healthy people leading happy, fruitful and fulfilling lives. The boys and girls at Partners are between ages 8-17 and have been referred to us by social service providers, school counselors or private therapists. They are in need of additional consistent positive influence in their lives that only a caring adult can provide. Without it, they are at-risk of making choices that will ultimately be detrimental to their future and our community. Every child at Partners is here voluntarily with the support of their parent or other primary care provider.
The partnership formed between a senior partner (adult mentor) and a junior partner (youth) commit to a one-year relationship. Part of their commitment includes spending an average of three to five hours a week together for the first year. Well beyond the first year the staff at Partners actively supports each partnership through on-going communication and activities. Because things often go so well most partnerships last well beyond the initial year. They are that gratifying to both the junior and the senior partner.
Continuous research shows that a partnership builds self-esteem raises self-respect and increases motivation and responsibility in the child. Senior partners consistently tell us that the relationship is very enjoyable and highly rewarding. Click here for a brief introduction on the rewards of being a senior partner. For a more in-depth look at the benefits of mentoring please watch the video below.
What kinds of negative influences do the youth at Partners face? They truly fall on a continuum of low risk to high risk, depending on a child’s circumstance. Many children live in single-parent and low-income households. Also, they may have been a victim of physical, emotional or sexual abuse, neglect, drug use or alcoholism in their family or might have had a family member incarcerated.
The network of eight Colorado Partners Mentors Association affiliates conducts on-going program evaluations. A recent compilation of data revealed that, upon entry to the program, 87.5% of the kids face two or more risk factors. The top five factors include:
1. At least one parent abuses or has abused alcohol or drugs.
2. At least one other immediate family member abuses or has abused alcohol or drugs.
3. The family is currently at low-income status.
4. At least one parent has been incarcerated.
5. The child has been a victim of abuse or neglect.
How We Know Partnerships Work
Partners supports each partnership actively through a full-time case manager and a variety of fun and informative group activities and community events. Research shows that youth at Partners change significantly after just one year in a mentoring partnership in several areas
- Reduced delinquency
- Increased positive bonding
- Increased school performance
- Higher self-esteem and self-reliance
- Reduced acceptance of interpersonal violence
- Reduction in the use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs
- Are more oriented toward the future life of greater promise
Partners takes an assets-based approach. We focus on the youth’s positive characteristics and what’s serving them well and build on their strengths. The program emphasizes effective communication skills, responsible decision-making, and anger management. The approach has proven successful in reducing a myriad of self-destructive behaviors in youth. The wider benefits to our community are clear.