Mayor Judy Sheets officially proclaimed January as Mentoring Month in the City of Frankfort during a brief ceremony Thursday in the conference room of Old Stoney.

“… I, Judy Sheets, the Mayor of the City of Frankfort, do hereby declare January, 2021 as National Mentoring Month and call upon all citizens, businesses, publica and private agencies to join the mentoring movement and volunteer with local organizations such as COACH Kids and the Clinton County Family YMCA and the Clinton County Boys and Girls Club,” Sheets stated near the end of her reading of the proclamation.

The brief ceremony was attended by Susan Grasham, executive director of COACH Kids of Clinton County, and Susie Michael, executive director of the Clinton County Boys & Girls Club.

“I think it is very important to our community,” Mayor Sheets said. “I am 100 percent behind them, and I think it is something that is very necessary. I appreciate the work of our YMCA, our Boys & Girls Club, COACH Kids – this is very important to our community as well as for the children that are affected by it, and I am very supportive of that. I think it is so important that we continue these programs for our children and also for the people who volunteer. I think it is very important that communication is kept open.”

Grasham says that the ceremony celebrates an annual campaign aimed at expanding quality mentoring opportunities to connect more of our community’s young people with caring adults.

According to a release on National Mentoring Month sent by COACH Kids, research shows that mentors play a powerful role in providing young people with the tools to make responsible choices, attend and engage in school, and reduce or avoid risky behavior like drug use. In turn, these young people are 55 percent more likely to be enrolled in college, 81 percent more likely to report participating regularly in sports or extracurricular activities, 78 percent more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities, and they are more than twice as likely to say they held a leadership position in a club or sports team. Yet, the same research shows that one in three young people in our country will grow up without a mentor.

“Normally at this time of year, we are getting ready to go to a mentoring summit to be around other professionals who are doing the same thing,” Grasham said. “And we will be doing it like everything else – virtually – this year, and that is a little different. It means a lot because it is important, but even more this year because of the pandemic. We are finding ways to try to work together more to have needs met for our kids. So, this is a chance for us to see each other because we don’t get to see each other at all. We are just grateful for the community and partners we can work with to make it happen.

“The pandemic makes it harder for kids, for their mental wellbeing and their social skills,” she added. “They are spending a lot of time on screens. So, it is really important for them to continue having personal relationships with others, especially adults.”

Michael was please to hear the Mayor promote National Mentoring Month.

“It is nice because the kids that we serve, so many of them don’t have adult mentors or adult role models,” she said. “So, it is nice to have COACH Kids and all of our (Boys and Girls Club) volunteers who come in and donate their time and talents to increase the time spent with the kids to give them positive influences.

“And it has been hard the last year,” Michael added. “We all know 2020 was bad. The Club was closed for three months, but we have been open since May 18, and we have more kids now than we ever have. But it takes more work to make sure that we don’t have any cases. It is just unique. When we were closed, the kids were on their screens. A lot of them are still doing the virtual learning, and it makes it hard for the kids to socialize and get help with their schoolwork. So, it is very important to have adults who will come in and help with that.”

Grasham says that there are many kids who could benefit from having a mentor today in our community.

“Especially with socially-distancing concerns, relationships are more valuable than ever,” she said. “COACH Kids is currently looking for mentors to connect with kids aged 6-17 within the community, as well as folks to visit kids on-site at the Clinton County Family YMCA and Clinton County Boys & Girls Club and serve as Pen Pals with local elementary-aged children. We need everyone to participate, but we especially appreciate men who can encourage and connect safely with our young males who are in great need of positive relationships. We want to celebrate the wonderful mentors and partner agencies that are already changing lives through youth mentoring, and we want to remind everyone that opportunities continue to change our world by committing to caring about our kids in this way.”

National Mentoring Month is led by MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, with support from the Highland Street Foundation. Each year since its launch in 2002, National Mentoring Month has enjoyed the strong support of the President and the United States Congress. Other prominent individuals who have participated in the campaign include Maya Angelou, former President Bill Clinton, Clint Eastwood, Quincy Jones, Cal Ripken Jr., Bill Russell and Usher.

To learn more about the role mentoring plays in our community and to find volunteer opportunities visit www.COACHkids.org or contact any one of the partner organizations.

COACH Kids works with local partners to find safe, compassionate mentors for kids in Clinton County. The COACH Kids office is at 554 W. Walnut St. in Frankfort, Indiana and can be reached via phone at (765)654-8812 or email at COACHkids@COACHkids.org. All three mentoring agencies gratefully receive support and some funding from United Way for Clinton County.