YouthLinks: About the Program

Mentees in the program are young people from diverse racial, ethnic, family, and socio-economic backgrounds who are willing to participate in a mentor relationship. Mentees are referred to the program by Montgomery County Child Welfare, the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services and emotional disabilities programs in Montgomery County Public Schools.

Youth experiencing trauma need caring adults.

Many of the youth referred to our program have suffered trauma in their short lives, including neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence, familial mental illness, and family separation and loss. They often lack positive adult guidance and supervision. Some have a history of attempted suicide, exhibit “joining” behavior or self-injurious behavior, or have difficulty controlling their anger. Some may have a juvenile record.

Research indicates that the prognosis for youth with this background can be poor without the intervention of positive adult relationships. Mentors provide youth with alternative relationship models that involve trust, support and caring. Mentors also provide mentees with an opportunity to develop basic social skills.

YMCA Youth and Family Services has two community-based mentoring programs:

YouthLinks:

Ages 5-15
Montgomery County residents
Referred to the program by Montgomery County Child Welfare or Maryland Juvenile Services.
Experiencing problems such as neglect, abuse or family conflict.
Suffering from low self-esteem, poor academic performance, and poor decision-making skills.
In need of consistent, positive adult role model.

Inspiring Futures

Boys and young men of color ages 12-15
Montgomery County residents
Referred to the program by Montgomery County Child Welfare or Maryland Juvenile Services.
Experiencing problems such as neglect, abuse or family conflict.
Suffering from low self-esteem, poor academic performance, and poor decision-making skills.
In need of consistent, positive adult role model.

In focusing on boys of color, Inspiring Futures is supporting one of the most vulnerable demographics in the county and addressing the County’s priority of Children Prepared to Live and Learn. In addition to the traumas of abuse and neglect, these young men must also navigate societal barriers of racial prejudice and socio-economic challenges. Experts in the field have described the importance of President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative and have explored the concept of Critical Mentoring, an approach which encourages intentional and deep conversations about the effects of race, ethnic identity and culture on boys of color. Inspiring Futures acknowledges the complicated path our young men must navigate through our community and provides social and cultural activities – including college and museum visits — to promote these dialogues with their mentors and to strengthen personal and social identity.

 BECOME A MENTOR  WHY MENTOR?

 

YMCA YouthLinks Thanks It’s generous In-kind donors: