HARRISBURG -- Harrisburg Mayor John McPeek honored an organization dedicated to providing positive role models Thursday when he proclaimed January National Mentoring Month in the city of Harrisburg.
Mentors 4 Kids Inc., or M4K, provides mentoring services for children in Saline, Gallatin, Williamson, Franklin, White and Jefferson counties, where adult volunteers are matched with children of all backgrounds, abilities and levels of need.
According to Executive Director Vickey Taake, M4K envisions a society in which all youth have the chance to develop into their full potential, experience a nurturing one-on-one relationship with a caring adult and be part of a caring, supportive community that cultivates their growth and development.
"Mentoring is about building a friendship with a child and being someone they can count on," Taake said.
She said research shows that when matched through a quality-mentoring program, mentors play a powerful role in providing young people with the tools to make responsible decisions. Mentored youth are more likely to stay focused and engaged in school, and are less likely to engage in risky behavior such as skipping school and using illegal drugs.
Taake said research has shown that at-risk youth who have mentors are 52 percent less likely than peers to skip school; 55 percent more likely to enroll in college; 46 percent less likely than peers to start using illegal drugs; and 81 percent more likely to participate in sports or extracurricular activites.
McPeek said he is pleased with how popular M4K has become locally.
"Their program has really grown in Saline County," McPeek said. "I'm glad they are in Harrisburg. Programs like that are great for our community."
Currently, M4K has eight children waiting to be matched in the region and is looking for adults who can volunteer to make a difference in the day-to-day lives of those children, Taake said.
For more information, look online at www.Mentors4kids.org , facebook.com/mentors4kids , or call Taake at (618) 252-1012.