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Challenge By Choice

How did you grow up to take healthy risks? Where do confidence and resilience come from? How did you find yourself compelled to help others while also taking care of your own needs?

Yes, to some degree helpful instincts are inborn. But success is not a foregone conclusion, as incarceration rates, school dropout, and teen pregnancy rates demonstrate. Material wellbeing matters. Safety matters. Role models matter. Opportunities matter. Consistency matters.

Successful people need caring individuals as guides and supports. They have people who can, with word and action, help point them toward a happy future.

Success springs from a combination of crucial ingredients. Every day, mentors in Moab bring some of these ingredients to their mentees. For example, in March, a group of mentors and mentees forged bonds of trust at Wild West Voyages’  high ropes course. They practiced keeping each other and themselves safe. They cheered for each other. They faced risks together and overcame daunting barriers 30 feet off the ground.

Again and again, perceived limits were overcome. Mentors and mentees checked each other to make sure the safety lines were clipped correctly. They worked together to move past scary and seemingly impossible terrain – a wobbly cable and piece of rope, a huge gap between platforms, dangling beams, a wonky twisted ladder, a climbing wall.

Children enrolled in mentoring face their own seemingly impossible terrain – a missing parent, the suicide of a family member, learning disabilities, or heart-rending trauma. Their grades, attendance, or behavior are suffering. They come to mentoring by choice, knowing instinctively that a non-familial caring adult is a missing ingredient.

Embarking on the mentoring journey is a leap of faith. Even in their excitement for this new experience, youth are often nervous about meeting their mentors for the first time. Yet some part of them speaks from the deep and says, in its own way: Have courage. At Grand Area Mentoring, youth stick with mentoring for 700% longer than children on average in the United States, as documented by a Department of Education study. These lasting relationships encourage them to surmount obstacles at the ropes course and in life. Even when relationships end with Grand Area Mentoring, many go on to evolve. Some created in year one of the program (seventeen years ago!) persevere today.

Where do confidence and resilience come from? In part, from the relationships that make us whole and draw out our inner strength. From the days and challenges we face together. From someone who said we could do this thing before we really believed it ourselves.

At the ropes course and through every week, mentees in Moab are learning to trust, take appropriate risks, believe in their natural goodness, and – eventually – to invest the essence of mentoring into their own children. Until all who need it are mentored, thank you for being a part of this movement.



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