Youth Exposure is a mentoring program for middle school students established in Plainfield, NJ. Mentees are students at local middle schools and mentors are recent college graduates who want to give back to the community. Our mission is to empower youth, ages 12-14, to strive for high levels of success through pursuit of education, leadership development and community service.
Research shows that youth have a serious need for positive role models. Recent data illustrates changes in the American family structure: the number of single-parent homes has radically increased, as have two-parent working families. As a result of these changes, more preventive care is needed, as are support networks to fill the void left by busy or absent parents. Other chilling statistics show the tough situations that our youth are facing: each day in the United States 3,600 students drop out of high school and 2,700 unwed teenage girls become pregnant (Petersmeyer 1989).
Youth Exposure believes the most effective, long-term solution is mentorship of youth from an early age. We have chosen to focus on children ages 12-14, those in middle schools, because they are easily influenced by positive role models and old enough to begin setting expectations and goals for their lives. We envision Youth Exposure as a program rooted in the community and serving as a safety net for children who desire to reach their full potential by providing a locally-based network of mentors and like-minded peers. The hope is that the program will become so ingrained in the community that those who have participated in the program as mentees will eventually volunteer as mentors themselves. This passing of the baton will build a strong network and sense of community.