Program seeks mentors for local children

Aaron Wolfcale-Holsten, Reporter

The Brookings County Youth Mentoring Program is looking for people who want to make a difference and impact lives. 

The BCYMP is a program designed to help children build good relationships and social skills while connecting and learning from people who genuinely care about them and their growth. They are the only formal mentoring program in town, but mentoring can be done through a local church or youth sports leagues, according to Mikayla Bottelberghe, volunteer & family engagement coordinator for BCYMP.

People interested in mentoring can sign up online with options for in-person and Zoom mentoring. When you sign up, you choose the age group and the number of kids you want to work with, according to Bottelberghe.

Some benefits to mentoring include increased confidence with kids, volunteer hours that don’t involve hard work and free activities with the kids such as bowling, movies and lunch, according to Clara Conners, president of the Jacks Youth Mentoring Club.

Benefits of mentoring, according to the University of California-Davis’ Learning and Development program:

• Get community service hours

• It looks good on resumes

• Make a difference in kids lives

• Free activities such as bowling, movies and food

• Improves leadership

• Builds communication skills

• Build personal network

• Become a better listener

• Increased self-awareness

Fellowship of Christian Athletes is a nationwide nonprofit organization that teaches kids about sports and religion through volunteer athletes and mentors. SDSU football player Colby Huerter volunteers to mentor and coach kids through FCA.

“Working with the kids impacts my life by keeping me connected to the community and it makes me want to be the best version of myself as a role model,” Huerter said.

Huerter is a standout safety for the South Dakota State Jackrabbits who dedicates his Sundays to the kids in the community who want to learn about football and religion through FCA. 

 When working with kids, Huerter’s favorite part is that it makes him feel like a kid again. It also helps him forget about his worries in school. 

“I work with kids because as a kid, I always looked up to the older kids who helped me out and showed me the ropes growing up,” Huerter said.

Mentoring kids is an effective way to improve yourself and your community. 

“On average, programs reported that more than 50 youth were waiting to be matched with mentors,” according to the National Institute of Justice, which covers and studies the nations youth mentoring programs. 

Brookings has over 50 kids on the waitlist for mentors within BCYMP, Conners said. 

 After becoming a mentor, you have the option to join the Jacks Youth Mentoring Club. The club is run by students and works directly with the BCYMP. The main focus of the club is to recruit students around campus while also planning events for the kids.

 In the Jacks Youth Mentoring Club, you can find people with the same mentoring interests who will share ideas of what works with the kids and what doesn’t. It’s also full of like-minded people who want to help the community and create a better future.

If you’re looking to work with the club on campus and don’t know where to start, they hold events that are free for everyone.