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Program in need of area mentors

Steubenville’s Parks and Recreation Department is launching a new program designed to improve the lives of the city’s young people.

Using a $111,000 grant from the National Recreation and Parks Association, local officials plan to establish a network of adult mentors whose main job will be to work with children who may be exposed to substance abuse in their homes.

It is hoped that during the next two years, about 30 children can be connected with mentors, city Parks and Recreation Director Lori Fetherolf said. The focus will be on youngsters between 9 and 13 years of age, though others will be accepted, too.

Many children are victims, purely and simply, of drug abuse and, as many school teachers in our region can attest, that can do great damage to youngsters. There are no beneficial effects.

Unfortunately, some juveniles who are exposed to the drug culture will decide to join it, and that represents tremendous losses to the community — from the lost potential of a young man or woman to the cost in police and court efforts to investigate and prosecute offenders.

The program Fetherolf is proposing has great potential on several fronts, including helping children directly and demonstrating the effectiveness of mentoring.

It all rides on being able to find mentors and being able to recruit 30 of them, which, Fetherolf admits, will be a challenge.

She said mentors must be at least 18 years old, willing to spend at least an hour a week with a child — and, of course, be able to pass a background check.

An informational meeting on the program is set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center.

We hope you will be able to attend. An hour or two a week of your time could make all the difference in the world to the children among us who need help and guidance.

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