New mentorship program pairs Youngstown State student-athletes with area children

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CIRV members are teaming up with Big Brothers Big Sisters and the City of Youngstown

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown’s Community Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV) announced a new program that relies solely on student-athletes at Youngstown State University who have volunteered to be mentors to young people.

CIRV members are teaming up with Big Brothers Big Sisters and the City of Youngstown to start a new program with YSU. They are training 30 YSU student-athletes to be mentors for young children.

“If you can partner with some young people, you’ll be amazed at the difference you’ll be able to make in their lives,” said YSU President Jim Tressel.

“This many volunteers in this center, if we process you and match you to a child in Youngstown, we will make societal change. I’m promising you that,” said Brian Higgins, with Big Brothers Big Sisters.

They are using student-athletes because of their ability to relate to kids, pairing them with other athletes from schools such as Chaney, East and more.

“We can actually give them opportunities that they’re striving to achieve in this moment right now that they can give back to the students in the Youngstown City area,” said Joseph Napier, with My Brother’s Keeper.

On Wednesday, they took time to understand what it means to be a mentor. It’s a year-long commitment and different things can account for how a child is paired up.

“Every mentor relationship will not look the same, I can guarantee you that, but we want to give an atmosphere so that opportunity and that relationship can blossom,” Napier said.

And with some sports like YSU football on hold, it gives the players a chance to give back.

“Being able to give back to the community and have somebody they can look up to that’s just not on TV or the big sports athletes like LeBron James. I think that can be really good and can relate to somebody within the community,” said YSU football player Miles Joiner.

“Building a relationship with somebody to be able to help them with what they need, being approachable,” said YSU football player Christian Turner.

The program is still looking for mentors. If you’re interested in being a mentor, call CIRV at 330-742-8778. If you’re a parent or guardian looking for a mentor for your child, call Big Brothers Big Sisters at 330-545-0002.

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