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Bolder Options: Matching Mentors And Mentees

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By Kerry McNally, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Something as simple as going for a run or a bike ride could make a big difference to a young person.

That’s the idea behind “Bolder Options,” a mentoring program in the Twin Cities that’s gotten national attention.

The program — led by former Gopher football star Darrell Thompson — is a mix of sports, volunteering, and overall life lessons.

“We feel like, in that 10- to 14-year-old age group they’re a point of trajectory. Where we feel like we have an opportunity to be in control of it,” said Thompson, the Executive Director.

Thompson believes it’s imperative to reach at-risk-kids while they are young.

“They’re still pliable enough where they want to listen to a mentor and a Bolder Options staff member,” he said.

Becky Reichel plays a pivotal role Bolder Option’s selection process. She’s one of the program coordinators.

“I have the best job in the world. I get to go out and meet the families and meet the kids. I get to kind of interview them and then I get to find them a mentor that I get to match them with for a whole year,” said Reichel.

“Their attitudes have changed drastically just for the better. Their mentors have been huge benefit to them,” said Kamillah El-Amin, a parent of a student who is being mentored.

El-Amin said she is grateful that her daughter Anisah has a mentor at such a critical time in her life.

“She’s in Jr. High School now, so it’s been a real new experience for her and her mentor has definitely helped with helping her keep her on track,” said El-Amin.

And being a mentor has its benefits.

“They love being that motivation for them to be able to make that change in their life. And to expose them to healthier habits, exercising, and just being a positive role model,” said Reichel.

Thompson, a football standout for both the Gophers and the Packers, is now succeeding in an arena that ultimately impacts us all.

“Through the running, through the biking, through all the different activities — our goal is that they would get excited enough about those activities where they’d want to make them a part of their life,” he said.

Bolder Options is always looking for Mentors and they have a long waiting list of kids in need of a positive role model.

The group has two offices in Minneapolis and one in St. Paul.

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