Cadet Beliard from North Miami Beach High School watches on as Army Corporal Gerald Creedon, Operation Sacred Trust, takes a virtual reality tour of the new home of the Miami Dolphins, Hard Rock Stadium.
When you think of a mentor from your youth, who comes to mind? Is it a parent or other family member? A neighbor? A friend or colleague?
Whoever it was, chances are your mentor was older than you were — someone who drew upon decades of experience to guide you through pivotal moments in your life, whether informally as a community member or through a formal mentoring program.
At AARP Foundation, we believe mentoring is a two-way street. Just as a young person can learn from the life experiences of an adult, the reverse is true as well. Young people can provide unique perspectives on the world while also serving as technology mentors to older adults who may be overwhelmed by digital tools like text messaging or Facebook.
In October, AARP Foundation put this idea into action by inviting nearly 70 South Florida military veterans, university students and high school ROTC cadets to share stories, find common ground and build connections. The “Salute to Service” event — conducted in partnership with the Miami Dolphins — honored the service of our past and future military by giving veterans an opportunity to share their experiences and insights, and students a chance to help them stay connected through a variety of digital vehicles. The event culminated in a day at a Miami Dolphins football game, where the group created new memories and strengthened their bond through an on-field flag ceremony and pre-game reception with other South Florida veterans. The veterans and students will continue to meet and mentor one another throughout 2017 and beyond.
Watch: Salute to Service (video)
According to Mentor.org, 1 in 3 young people will grow up without a mentor. At the same time, nearly 1 in 5 older adults are alone or isolated. At a stage of life when each of these generations needs the most support — friends to share troubles with, meaningful pursuits, strong social bonds — too many are going it alone.
During January, National Mentoring Month, we remember that the generations have a lot to offer one another, and that a commitment to connecting can transform lives — at any age.
Interested in learning more about how you can mentor an older adult or help someone out of isolation? Our Mentor Up program offers step-by-step guides on how to navigate digital tools such as social media and email. Connect2Affect, a platform to end social isolation, offers resources and guides for friends, families, practitioners and thought-leaders.