Interviews by Youth with Mentors That Matter
By the students of What Kids Can Do
Edited by Kathleen Cushman
April 2008 — Paperback — 94 pages, photographs — ISBN: 0-9762706-8-3 — $9.95 (USD)
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Who are the significant adults in the lives of teenagers, beyond the home and classroom? How do they reach out to youth, and why?
Surprising and moving answers resulted when youth from around the country named the people whose everyday actions are helping them grow up. (Nobody calls them “mentors,” teens remind us – it’s usually far less formal than that.)
They nominated the people—dance teachers, coaches, foster parents, tutors, even a school bus driver and a hair stylist—who talk to them, have fun with them, help them through hard times, and teach them how to do things that can change their lives.
Then, armed with tape recorders and cameras, the young photo-journalists went out and asked some good questions. In the process, they found unexpected treasures in the stories of ordinary people who care about “other people’s children.”
The resulting book of first-person essays and photographs, Pass It On: Interview by Youth of Mentors That Matter, aims to spark interest among community members as they read of the satisfaction others find in making cross-generational connections.
An extensive appendix to Pass It On sets out a complete curriculum for educators who seek an engaging adolescent literacy project with a service learning angle. (Books are made available to teachers by the carton at a subsidized price.)
Youth from Chicago, Providence, San Francisco, and Tampa worked on the Mentors That Matter project, which was sponsored by MetLife Foundation as an initiative of What Kids Can Do (WKCD), a national nonprofit whose mission is “powerful learning with public purpose.”
The project ended with public exhibitions in each city in spring 2007, honoring the mentor adults with medals and mounting over 100 photo-narratives for display.
WKCD writer Kathleen Cushman coached the project and edited the book.
PRAISE FOR “PASS IT ON” . . .
A meaningful culmination to a genuinely inspiring service learning experience. Applying an array of skills, these student authors demonstrate their recognition of how mentors touch the lives of many young people. And such captivating, well written stories that reach across generations! — Cathryn Berger Kaye, author, The Complete Guide to Service Learning
These remarkable stories testify to the power of community, of working together and helping one another. Each one inspires and gives hope, showing us the power of supportive relationships in the lives of youth. —Mayor David Cicilline, Providence, RI
We always say, “We don’t have time for this,” but I think sometimes in a black community we don’t take hold of time. Every minute something is being made, even when we are enjoying relationships. There is so much we have to get to young people, before they get to a certain age—always challenging, always pushing yourself to push that kid. So that kid sees that with hard work there are things you can strive on. The obstacles don’t stop—and once you overcome one, there’s always going to be another one. —Eric Morris, basketball coach and mentor, Chicago
“The remarkable stories in Pass It On testify to the power of community, of working together and helping one another. Each one inspires and gives hope, showing us the power of supportive relationships in the lives of youth.”
—Mayor David Cicilline,