Adult male mentors needed

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Project Challenge is a program designed to help "at-risk" students complete high school studies and obtain their GED.

Alan Callanan, program manager for Project Challenge in Nevada, is in need of adult male mentors interested in helping the youth once they have completed the 5-month residential program in Arizona.

"They have no TV, no radio, march around and do military type activities - they learn to handle this stuff," said Callanan.

"The kids become more disciplined, but the problem is when they return home. They are back around the influences that got them in trouble in the first place. What they need are positive role models to make a positive influence in their life."

Project Challenge is a 17-month program that combines classroom work, community service, physical training and challenging individual and team activities in one unique quasi-military experience. It is open to both male and female, specifically for teenagers 16-18 who have quit school.

"The mentor is there to help them through the remainder of the program when they return. To possibly help them to decide what they want to do with their life and encourage them."

Callanan noted the mentor is an all-volunteer commitment, the position is not paid, though Nevada does pay $15,000 per youth who enters the program. The state has approved for 12 youth to attend each of the two programs held each year.

"I select the kids that would best benefit from it. If I have more than 12 available for the program, I will hold a pre-challenge to weed out who I think may not make it through the program. Typically, these are kids who have dropped out of school, have problems or misdemeanor arrests."

Those that apply to be mentors must fill out an application, be fingerprinted and go through a background check. It is preferred the mentor be between the ages of 25 and 60.

"I will give training to the mentors so they know who and what they are, what they are to do and how to do it. It is a one-year commitment.

"All they have to do is meet with the kid one or two times a month, and make a phone call to see how he is doing. Plus they will fill out a report after contacting the kid. The kids are from Carson City or Reno."

Callanan talks with high school principals, the DARE program and works with Ian Curley, who is with the juvenile probation department in Carson City. Callanan has been program manager for about a year and is himself a mentor. He also receives assistance from the Air National and National Guards.

"These are one-on-one mentoring situations and the program has about an 84 percent success rate. Most of these kids do finish the program and complete their GED."

Callanan can be reached at 885-8201 (leave a message), or 348-9724.


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