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Leading With the Heart

What is a mentor?

According to The American Heritage College Dictionary, a mentor is defined as a wise and trusted counselor or teacher. In the business world, mentors are known as superior performers and establish themselves as guides or models for the less experienced. Good mentors understand what it takes to help the team get ahead and also understand the ins and outs of their particular expertise. Most of all, a mentor is thought of as a trusted friend and counselor by the protégé.

A protégé is defined as a person who receives guidance and direction from a mentor. The interchange of learning and understanding is what makes the relationship so important. The relationship between a mentor and protégé works in a Martial Arts environment.

Why be a mentor?

According to the Institute for the Advancement of Health in New York, altruism is healthy for both the mind and body. The Institute’s ongoing study on volunteers shows that people who help others feel better emotionally and report fewer stress-related health problems.

The rationale behind becoming a mentor stems from this feeling of altruism. A majority of mentoring relationships attributes their success to the personal satisfaction they feel when contributing to the growth and development of young people. Educators and community members need our help in keeping young people who are at risk of drop- ping out interested in school and in providing means to keep young people off drugs. In order to ease this continuing education crisis, the nation needs grass-roots level involvement.

What can we contribute?

The Martial Artists possess certain skills and abilities that are invaluable to the protégé. As the mentor, we have had important life experiences that have brought us to this position. We have the opportunity to pass our knowledge to the next generation of Americans.

What skills and abilities do I have to share with a student?

The Martial Artist is role model. We are successful professionals who fulfilled requirements, like graduating from high school, focusing on a goal to become a black belt and striving to achieve it. These accomplishments could not have been achieved by being distracted by peer pressure, drugs and alcohol. We represent the notion that a young person needs a high school diploma to open doors. After all, the Martial Arts instructor motivates and leads his disciples. Application of the skills we possess will help young people in our community take responsibility and fulfill their academic requirements.

Our years of teaching and training have honed good communication and listening skills. We approach young people empathetically (identify with their problems), value and never violate the trust they have in us and apply liberal doses of good common sense when approached with problems.

In order to help our students, we need to first make a connection and then use that connection to convey our message. By gaining the trust of young people, we make a connection and foster a feeling of mutual respect. The message we provide is twofold: You are worth my time and effort because you are a valuable human being; and, I can offer - by word, deed, or the example of my life - ways to expand your horizons and to increase the likelihood that you will achieve success.

What are the pitfalls?

Balance support and guidance while avoiding the tendency to be controlling. Also, be careful not to offer guidance that may conflict with parental or school rules. Consistency is important. We can’t promise support that our schedule or budget won’t allow. What the K.I.C.K. program offers is the ability to reach out to all young people who need support and guidance and to provide them with group and one-on-one attention for a sustained period of time. The city, government and private industries’ personal investment in the lives of young people will allow each youth to look beyond the present to envision a future full of promise.

Planning Partnerships

Our mission as role models and mentors is important to the community. In order to do our job effectively, we need educators to consider us a resource and a true partner on the educational path of life. As a role model and mentor, we are able to offer support and guidance for all students and most importantly, students at risk. Though this road we venture is rigorous, there are still plenty of opportunities to have fun and get the job done at the same time.

We must initiate creative opportunities and allow our program to inform and entertain. We’ll need the aid of educators (preachers, teachers, coaches, school counselors and principals), local businesses, student organizations and community support. We will bring them our Ideas and offer our support to organize fun events that relay the message to K.I.C.K. the bad cycle and stay in school, stay off drugs and plan for life.

Here are some ideas to get us moving in the right direction. If our suggestion does not fit within our school’s focus, we will skip it. But won’t stop there. We will suggest a “K.I.C.K. Day” where the school or class aims for perfect attendance. Give presentations where an educator or K.I.C.K. staff could host a drug education seminar. Get members of the local community (doctors, nurses, police officers) to come in and talk about the down side of drug use. Have community experts or recovering abusers talk about the rewards of staying off drugs.

Offer to help organize a job skills seminar for high school juniors and seniors. Sponsor an essay contest surrounding the themes of K.I.C.K.

Get creative. Have art classes design TAKE CHARGE! Posters and help the students hang them throughout the school.

Have a “Read Off Day” for sophomores and juniors. Give prizes or awards to students who, in addition to their daily homework, read a book a week preparing for the future. Educate the students on the importance of studying and staying in school.

Talk at school assemblies; bring in others (military community, local business etc.) who can talk about steps to success, stress, leadership, responsibility, teamwork and caring. Testimonials that aren’t preachy work. Keep it simple and honest. The straight facts say it all.

Host an “Opportunities After High School Day”. Offer other community members the opportunity to participate in the day’s festivities. Hold an assembly and/or social function in which students can interact with adults who can advise them on potential careers.

Have the newspaper or radio stations arrange for coverage of the events. These events and partnerships will stimulate conversation on the subjects mentioned above. We must continue to be creative and improve our relationships. The events, plus our caring and dedication for the young people in our community will help shape the souls of tomorrow.




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