Editorial: Being a mentor for Level-UP has many rewards

Millennials.

Defined as "a person reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century," millennials are often criticized for a variety of things, including being self-absorbed, on their phones too much, without ambition, entitled, the list goes on and on.

Are the criticisms fair? That would probably depend on the millennial in front of you, but some people are concerned about our nation's future because of their concerns about the millennials.

Happily, there is a program in Dalton that is working with youth to develop their leadership and other skills, which is featured in our Living section in today's newspaper.

Level-UP is a 10-week youth leadership development program of the Dalton Parks and Recreation Department and it recently celebrated its second graduating class of 12: Zion Broome, Ryder Burse, Evan Hood, Olivia Moore, Devanshi Patel, Dhayai Patel, Dylan Patel, Sovil Patel, Gerriyah Raines, Jamir Timmons, Kiara Torres and Trey Young.

"In Level-UP, our philosophy is to cultivate existing potential in youth by developing their leadership skills," said Audrey Simmons, program director. "Our four principles are integrity, attitude, vision and commitment. In exchange, they will use these principles for the common good, in their community, schools, jobs and social groups."

"Level-UP has a five-point structure that sharpens that individual potential through personal development, leadership training, academic skills training, mentorship and community service," the program says.

The third and last session of the program this year will begin on Sept. 23. The program cost is $50.

And new mentors are needed. If you are interested, call the Mack Gaston Community Center at (706) 278-8205 or (706) 463-2414.

We commend the most recent mentors -- Jim Baird, Patrice Branham, Zeferino Chavez, Sharon Clark, Nick Finney, Trip Finney, Shalisa Love, Renee Magee, David Sheats, Forrest Starks, David Thomas and Steven Tibbs -- and the program's facilitators -- Eugene Hamilton, Marisa Kelley, Simmons, James Stephens and Charlie Walker.

If you have the time and can mentor the young people in the next session, we encourage you to do. The young people will benefit from your knowledge, wisdom and expertise, and you might be surprised at how fulfilling mentoring these young people can be.

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