BY DENISE CLAY/ We talk a lot about stopping the violence here in the City of Brotherly Love and Put The Damned Gun Down by providing kids with alternatives to shooting each other and all of the activities that can sometimes lead to that.
One of the things that seem to always come up is mentoring … and how our kids need more of it.
But while there are people out there who do want to be mentors, it’s not always easy for them. When you have a demanding job, a family and other responsibilities, trying to shoehorn time to mentor into that schedule can be difficult if not impossible.
Now, what if you were able to mentor a young person while doing something that you do every day … work via the internet?
Tonight at the School of the Future, 40th & Girard Avenues, the folks at the Urban Youth Racing School, the Knight Foundation and the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey will introduce to the public a guide to using the Internet (and specifically Social Media) as a mentoring device.
The groups will be unveiling UYRS’s What It Takes E-Mentoring guide, a guide to best practices taken from the group’s What It Takes E-Mentoring program. In addition to showcasing the guide, tonight’s event, which begins at 6 p.m. will include a panel discussion on E-Mentoring moderated by journalist Soledad O’Brien and a screening of O’Brien’s latest “Black in America” documentary.
While the event is free and open to the public, they do want you to register. You can register at www.uyrs.com.
What It Takes has connected 100 African American men with 200 boys and allows them to communicate with each other via a LinkedIn page put together for that purpose, said Anthony Martin, founder of the Urban Youth Racing School.
Martin had been connecting young people with potential mentors through an event UYRS had done called “What It Takes”. The event would bring in men who had risen to the tops of their professions to talk to young people about how they got there.
When he saw how much his charges appreciated the interaction, Martin sprung into action.
“I wanted these conversations to continue,” he said.
To do this, Martin reached out to some of the folks he had met through Urban Youth Racing School. Folks like former 76ers great Charles Barkley (who may not be a role model, but makes a good mentor). Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, and others. He asked them to recruit people for the program.
But you don’t have to be a Pro Bowl quarterback, or an actor to be a mentor.
As I said earlier in this column, UYRS’s What It Takes program has 100 mentors for 200 kids. That means that some of the men are taking more than one kid. That’s fine, if you can do it and give each kid the attention he needs, but it would be nice if each kid had someone that he could connect with.
If you’d like to be a mentor through the Urban Youth Racing School, go to www.uyrs.com and sign up. As you can see, there are more kids in need of mentoring than there are people available to mentor. Some of the men in this program are mentoring more than one kid.
They could use the help.
I’d like to end today’s column by sending my condolences out to the family of former City Councilwoman Augusta Clark. Clark, one of the first African American women to serve in Philadelphia City Council, died on Sunday after a long illness. She was 81.
Councilwoman Clark was a tireless advocate for education in this city, which is why we crossed paths. I was covering education for the Philadelphia Tribune when she was on Council and she was always willing to talk about what was best for the kids of our city.