Members of the Auburn and Opelika communities are recognizing National Mentoring Month through the work that Project Uplift has done and plans to expand on.
National Mentoring Month occurs every January in order to direct national attention towards the need for mentors in the lives of the youth. It focuses on not only what individuals can do for the movement but also how businesses, government agencies, schools and other local organizations can get involved with the mentoring efforts.
Project Uplift is a program of the Lee County Youth Development Center, which is based within the psychology department of Auburn’s College of Liberal Arts and has been a part of Auburn for 45 years.
Project Uplift is an organization ensuring that the youth of the Auburn and Opelika area have mentors to guide them towards positive life decisions. Each mentor is paired with a child in the community to help guide them down a good path, and over the last 45 years, the program has affected approximately 10,000 adults and children, from those who volunteer to the mentees themselves.
Chris Nunn has been involved with Project Uplift for 21 years and is the current coordinator of the program. He described the in-depth purpose that Project Uplift was created to fulfill.
“This program is very similar to a Big Brother-Big Sister program in that we pair children, ages through 12, with adult role models,” Nunn said. “We hope to reduce and prevent juvenile delinquency while we build children’s self-esteem.”
The children in Project Uplift are referred to the program through various social service agencies and participate in the program voluntarily. Any person who is at least 19 years old can apply to be a volunteer and, if accepted, will be paired with a child, who they will spend a few hours a week with. The idea was that through the time spent between the child and mentor, a strong and sincere relationship would be formed.
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This year, Project Uplift held an event in which the mayors of Opelika and Auburn signed a proclamation supporting National Mentoring Month, which Nunn said was an important moment highlighted by the organization.
“Our organization is one that is working to ensure our community has young people who are making healthy decisions that will, in turn, provide a safe and strong community for us all to live in,” Nunn said.
While Project Uplift has been around for a while, the organization is still working toward growing. Nunn said a few goals the staff is currently working towards are to recruit 200 adult role models and to reduce the number of children on not only their waitlist but other programs as well.
For students that wish to get involved with Project Uplift, visit www.auburn.edu/projectuplift or contact the office at (334) 844-4430 for more information on the application process.
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