The Mentoring Center of Central Ohio now offers online training to people who want to help children grow up.

The Mentoring Center of Central Ohio now offers online training to people who want to help children grow up.

"This places the Mentoring Center among a select group of organizations offering in-depth, informative, online training on multiple topics," center Assistant Vice President Kimeta A. Dover said in an announcement. "The goal is to help mentors and professionals successfully guide and support mentees -- children and youth -- who face adversity in their daily lives."

The Mentoring Center was founded in 2000. It had provided in-person training sessions 150 times a year for people working at or volunteering with 40 agencies serving young people throughout central Ohio, as well as 50 programs throughout the state.

The latter aspect of the center's efforts, particularly in northern Ohio, led to development of the online training program, said Executive Director Marilyn Pritchett. It is one thing, she said, for people living in Columbus and surrounding suburbs to journey to the offices the center shares with Big Brothers/Big Sisters at 1855 E. Dublin-Granville Road.

It's another to expect people from Ashland or Wooster or Toledo to make the trip.

"Mentors need more guidance and more support and more knowledge than they start off with, so the idea was, how do we help people get more training as children have more adult problems that they are dealing with?" Pritchett said last week.

The result of 18 months of effort is a series of nine training programs that potential volunteers and professionals can access from their home computers at their convenience.

"It is the point that this is a way to give access in the 24/7, on-demand way that people are used to having," Pritchett said. "We're trying to go with the wave of the future."

The programs now available online are:

* Making of a Mentor, to build relationships.

* Cultural Dynamics, to help bridge differences of education, race and economics.

* Mentoring Adolescents, to motivate and support positive behavior.

* Learning Styles/Tutoring Tips, to build on the mentee's preferences.

* Anger Management, to "replace "hot" thoughts with "cool" thoughts.

* Successful Site-Based Mentoring.

* Successful Community-Based Mentoring.

* Mentee Training, to help young people get the most out of the relationship.

* Life Skills Training, to help with key skills.

"One of the things we didn't want was to have someone just sitting there and looking at a PowerPoint and listening to someone talk," Dover said.

Because in-person mentor training involves back-and-forth discussions and role-playing, Pritchett said the online programs had to be developed in such a way as to compensate for that, often through video vignettes.

"Knowing that those interactions, that dialogue, wasn't going to be there, in a sense it gave you the room to add in more content," she said.

In-person trainees are asked to take a test to make sure they got the most out of the lessons; Dover said the same applies to those accessing the programs over their computers.

Each course lasts an hour or so and the cost is $20. Discounts are offered to agencies to encourage them to offer training to as many of their personnel and volunteers as possible, Pritchett said.

"We just know that so much depends for young people on having someone there to boost and guide " she said.

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