By Kristine Sorensen

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Peer-to-peer mentoring is empowering children to help one another.

We’ve seen teachers mentoring students at Duquesne Elementary and local professionals mentoring children at Allegheny Traditional Academy, listening and guiding them – even local crossing guards who go the extra mile to mentor children.

But peer-to-peer mentoring offers something different: the perspective and guidance of someone close to their age.

Here at Crossroads Foundation’s after school program in Pittsburgh’s east end, the students say it helps them feel like they belong.

Oakland Catholic senior Quani Thomas mentors sophomore Janise Zenmon.

“It’s probably not easy to open up to adult but opening up to someone your age is relatable,” Quani said.

Janise says Quani gives her advice on classes, teachers and more.

“Or like other problems, like girl problems, or things that are happening in school because we’re both African American girls, and we might need someone to talk to.”

“It’s kind of easier to talk to your mentor and become friends because they went through the same thing you have,” said Quani.

Both Janise and John Banner, who had a mentor when he was a freshman at Serra Catholic High School, say it was really nice knowing an upperclassman.

John’s mentor helped ease his transition from public school to a catholic school where he didn’t know anyone. Now, he wants to do the same for someone else.

One thing that differentiates a mentorship from another relationship is training. The teenagers were trained by the mentoring partnership of Southwestern Pennsylvania and how to be a leader and a mentor.

The Mentoring Partnership trains more than 1,000 mentors in our region every year.

“Mentors who are prepared before they are matched, mentors who received mentor training are more likely to be successful, feel confident and do a better job as a mentor,” said the executive director of Mentoring Partnership Of Pittsburgh, Colleen Fedor.

“This really sets young people up to see themselves as assets as a person of value of worth,” said Esther Mellinger-Stief, the executive director of Crossroads Foundation.

Kristine Sorensen