I joined the STARS program my junior year of high school, which was also the pilot year. Going into the program, I had no idea what to expect, or what it meant to be a mentor to someone. Despite my oblivion, the great energy and excitement the coordinators brought with each meeting incentivized me to stay. After the first few meetings, about three things were clear. One, that STARS was an organization of Students Teaching About Relationships and Success, high schoolers mentoring eighth graders. Two, simply showing an eighth grader that a high schooler in interested in helping improve their lives or being a listening ear is powerful in itself. And lastly, it was clear that this is a program I’d want to be a part of for as long as I could, which is why I joined again this school year.
Each week, we mentors meet to discuss the designated mentor session, then meet again with the eighth grade class to engage in the session’s activities. Before we enter the room, we always make sure to be mindful in emanating positive energy, and to greet the mentees with a smile and enthusiasm. We all remember the pains of being an eighth grader. The acne, the bad hair, the braces, being too tall or too shy to fit in, and not knowing who you are, stuck in the awkward phase of transitioning into a mature high school. We often remind them that we’ve all played that game before, and we’re there to give them all the rules.
Over the summer of 2015, I and the other mentors traveled to Denver, Colorado to attend the STARS National Conference. There, we met many other teen mentors from other states. Though complete strangers, we all became quickly acquainted with one another, building relationships and sharing our experiences with mentoring. We attended inspiring workshops, amusement parks, and other events that brought us all even closer than we were before. The conference maintained high energy, and there was never a dull moment seeing teens from all over all come together with one thing in common, which is the love of being a mentor.
Guest blogger, Breonna Walker, 2nd year mentor with PATH's STARS Mentoring program
A Positive Approach to Teen Health (P.A.T.H) is a 501(c)3 organization that reaches seven counties throughout Northwest Indiana. Since 1993, A Positive Approach to Teen Health has been working to empower teens to make healthy choices regarding drugs, sex, alcohol, and violence.