A WHOLE NEW PERSPECTIVE ON YOUTH MENTORING by TOSIN ASHAFA
Recently, I have begun thinking about youths that I used to know with great dreams and bright ideas, but seemed to have drifted into oblivion. Some have struggled to carve a niche for themselves, and having failed in this quest, have given up on their pursuits. Others have been swept away by life's unpredictable challenges, helplessly watching their dreams being flooded down the drain by the tide.
Reasons for these can be attributed to the lack of guidance and support from more fortunate individuals who have been down the road. Even though youths' productivity can lead to a rewarding future, without constant and adequate support, this future may be made bleak by the uncertainties of the present.
To be productive is to have the willingness to create, innovate and establish something beneficial not only to the society, but also to the fulfilment of the individual as well. It could pave way to self-growth and such discovery or innovation could lead to an unprecedented social and economic development. But most times, especially in developing countries, individuals with lofty ideas have often been left to grapple with the challenges that come with this drive to be productive, alone.
There have been few or no avenues where youths can have their voices heard and dreams nurtured. There are, however, various ways that the society can support these youths and their ambitions. It could be individually or collectively; whichever way, the efforts should lead to the satisfaction that is derived from the fulfillment of dreams.
One of the ways that can be of immense importance to these youths in this strive for greatness is mentorship. Mentoring comes from experienced people who are willing to render, without expecting any benefits in return, their time, expertise, efforts, experience and sometimes money to young individuals willing to follow the mentors' paths in life.
Mentoring could come in different ways: internship (having the mentees trained in an established firm, company or industry); or through one-on-one coaching sessions (coaching which could be weekly or monthly sessions between the mentor and the mentee). Regardless, however, mentoring has proven to be a successful tool that, if used properly, will not only lead ambitious youths towards a successful path, but will also help them pull through the challenges that is associated with goals in life.
In some ways, the youths will stand to have the benefits of experienced people easing them out of their unfavorable circumstances with less tears. Mentoring comes with courage- the type that alerts the mentee that there's someone who believes in me, someone I can't afford to fail or disappoint.
Also, extra-curricular activities can be a perfect strategy to help lead youths towards a productive way in life. One thing such activity does is that it helps youth discover their talents, interests and passions in life. Furthermore, it helps them stay focused and teaches them commitment and determination.
Extra-curricular activities can be established in school curriculum or introduced as “after-school hours” programs. They range from volunteering to community service, sports to fellowship programs. The benefit of programs like these is that they encourage the young minds to see beyond themselves, to learn to leave their comfort zones for their benefits and for the benefits of their communities. Once this is done, and done with all passion, they will have learned the art of not only giving back, but also achieving whatever goals they are set to achieve, regardless of the daunting task involved in the process.
Since the young minds are easily distracted and discouraged from their goals in life, support programs should be established where ideas are encouraged and those with the ideas are trained to perfection. The difference between this and mentoring is that, mentoring is mostly on selective basis and only few youths get the chance to be mentored. But when ideas-supported programs are introduced and maintained, more youths with smart and promising ideas will stand the chance of being encouraged to pursue their dreams and stay productive.
Furthermore, healthy competitions should be encouraged, not to promote the desire for an ultimate price, but to encourage every youth to pursue their dreams vigorously. The competitions should be sentiments and biased free. Above all, it should be a yearly competition inviting all interested youths to display their products, projects or ideas, and the best of them all get extra rewards. One thing competition does is that it often comes with an alarm that jars the sloppy ones into staying focused and hard working. In societies where healthy competitions abound, youths are willing to give up unnecessary distractions in order to stay focused and achieve something substantial.
Some of the things that come between youths and their dreams are lack of guidance, support and mentoring from individuals or groups who have experiences that could liberate these youths from the shackles of doubts and discouragement. When relevant and timely support are provided to these youths, chances are that a better part of their ambitions will not fizzle out from lack of determination. And when the society begins to have young minds with less failed dreams, then the journey towards having an excellent group of young achievers will begin the process of creating a society full of success stories.
NB: Mr. Basheer Tosin Ashafa is the CEO of Rio Construction. He writes from Lagos.