She came to me with a smile on her face. Her brown eyes were bright and happy- my Ellie*. Twenty minutes into our time together, though, she confided in me that she had been to the hospital that weekend to have her stomach pumped out after overdosing on prescription drugs in an attempt to take her life. This wasn’t the first time, and although I was not surprised, I was saddened. My Ellie? Eleven years old, and already so thoroughly finished with her life that she was trying to end it? Looking down, my eyes settled on her wrists. Lined with crisscrossing pink scars, they told a story of hurt and pain unfathomable for a girl of her age. Oh Ellie, why? Even though I knew about her self-harm before that day, it still gave me a jolt to see it. What was my sweet Ellie doing cutting herself? If there was anyone in the world who should be safe from things like suicide and self harm, it would be Ellie.
I can’t keep her away from the hard things in her life, but that’s not my job. My only job is to be a trustworthy person for Ellie to talk to and hang out with- I give her support and act as a friend.
As an elementary student, I watched my classmates leave class once a week for one hour with an older student and come back happy and leaving the rest of us feeling a bit jealous. Those kids (both the older and younger ones) were registered in the local Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Now, as a high school student, I am a part of the program as a mentor, or ‘big’. I take a bus to my ‘little’s’ school weekly to read with her for fifteen minutes and then hang out doing whatever activity she wants. My mentee is eleven years old and in grade 6. She is the oldest age permitted to be a mentee, so this year she will ‘graduate’ from the program. Mentoring her has enriched my life. I look forward to my weekly visits with her, and I strongly recommend mentoring for anyone who is looking for a way to make the world a better place for someone.
Ellie isn’t the only elementary aged child who needs someone to confide in and trust with her story. Children everywhere are fighting bigger battles than they can handle on their own, and it’s not hard to provide support for a struggling girl or boy. All it takes is one hour a week.
If you are interesting in becoming a mentor, take a look at the links posted below:
These are only a few of the options for mentoring. If you think that you would like to become a mentor, look into the options in your area and don’t be afraid to step out to make a difference. Mentors make huge impacts in their mentees’ lives, and there is no shortage of children who need a mentor.
*not her real name