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Youth Wellness and Empowerment

Mentors Can Ignite the Power and Potential of Youth

Two girls enjoying a soccer match
Two girls enjoying a soccer match

Many children and youth in Canada struggle with societal barriers and face adversities in their lives, but with the support of mentors, youth can reach their full potential.

Mentoring relationships change young people’s lives. Mentoring is a critical factor in shaping healthy, productive, and engaged citizens.

According to Harvard University’s Centre on the Developing Child, “Every child who ends up doing well has had at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive adult.”

Stable and committed relationships buffer young people from developmental disruption and build resiliency — yet research1 shows that one in five young people don’t have access to a strong relationship. This troubling statistic underscores the power of mentoring.

Many children and youth struggle with societal barriers and face adversities such as poverty, family instability, and identity-based discrimination. These conditions can negatively impact a young person’s future. Mentoring ensures that all young people, regardless of their background or life experience, have access to a trained and caring adult who can ignite their power and potential.

Through mentoring, young people discover who they are, cultivate the abilities needed for them to shape their own lives, and learn how to engage with and contribute to the world around them. Mentoring offers a unique combination of critical support, opportunities for new and positive experiences, and intergenerational skill exchange that provides the foundation of resilience. Mentoring is an important way to empower youth and support them to develop into healthy young people who are better able to deal with and overcome life’s adversities.

The evidence is clear:

  • 80% of mentored youth pursue healthy lifestyles
  • 87% have strong social networks
  • 98% believe they make good choices
  • And compared to their non-mentored peers, mentored youth are 17% more likely to be employed

We all benefit when the children in our community grow into happy, healthy, and confident adults. Every $1 invested in childhood mentoring returns $23 to society through positive outcomes.2 An investment in childhood mentoring is an investment in everyone’s future.


  1. Search Institute
  2. Boston Consulting Group’s 2013 study of Big Brothers Big Sisters Mentoring Programs

Norah Whitfield is the National Vice President of Network Development & Member Services at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada.

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