Monday, February 11, 2013

COMMENTARY: Make a difference as a LIFE coach

By DIANE HENTGES, Director of the Volunteer Center/RSVP at the United Way of Wyandotte County

Teenagers face a number of challenges that can side track them. Some of the side tracks lead to dropping out of school, making bad choices, testing limits --- some may even result in jail time.

In our country, over one million ninth graders will not graduate with their class. Every day, 7,000 students in the United States drop out of school. These are sobering statistics for a nation that values education.

The reality for a drop-out is bleak. That student can find it harder to find a job and if they do find a job, their earning capacity is diminished. Self-esteem is low and a feeling of hopelessness can prevail.

Mentoring can “make a difference.”  Research shows that mentored youth are 52 percent less likely to skip school, 46 percent less likely to begin using illegal drugs, 37 percent less likely to skip a class, 33 percent less likely to hit someone and 27 percent less likely to begin using alcohol.

In addition, research has shown that 84 percent of youth who are mentored have better self-esteem, 62 percent are more aware of educational opportunities and 57 percent have improved family relationships.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City are recruiting adult mentors to serve as a “LIFE Coach” for an area teen. A LIFE Coach mentor needs to be able to commit to meet for one hour twice a month with their mentor. The LIFE Coach will help the student with homework, tutor in needed subjects, help with life skills, explore career options, work on life plan development and discuss what to do after high school.

Those interested in being a LIFE Coach mentor can go to and apply on line. All applicants are subject to a background check. Boys & Girls Clubs will provide training to mentors.

Make a difference and be a LIFE Coach mentor.

For more information on how you can GIVE, ADVOCATE, and VOLUNTEER, please contact me at 913-371-3674 or at

You can find volunteer opportunities by checking out our website, and click on Volunteer.