Winning, Developing, & Mentoring the Heart of a Teenager
In a day and age where we are globally connected more than we have ever been in the history of the earth, it is well researched and documented that teenagers are reporting more feelings of loneliness and teenage suicide is more prevalent than ever before. For those of us who have chosen to bravely love and walk alongside the next generation we must understand that the need for mentorship within the context of relationship is what our teenagers need. They crave and desire to be fully known and deeply loved. When you spend consistent time with them, you earn the ability to speak into their lives, whether that is words of encouragement or correction. During the 2010s decade, while Kendra was in her 20s and Kenya was in her teenage years, we had the opportunity to do exactly this with each other. The narrative around the next generation is not always one full of hope and belief. It takes a certain type of person to pour their lives into teenagers where we often do more seed planting, than we do reaping the harvest of our labor. If you have the courage to read on, we believe you will glean great insight into winning, developing, and mentoring the heart of your teenager and begin to help us change the negative narrative one teenager at a time. If you believe like we do, that the future of our world depends on how we commit to them, we invite you into our story. We intend to be part of the solution ... won't you join us?
About the Authors
Kendra: Through her experiences in youth development in public education, higher education, sports, non-profits, and faith-based organizations, Kendra has directly experienced how adults who are committed to mentoring students can positively impact the trajectory of their lives. Kendra began her career running operations for YMCA Teen Camp in Greenville, South Carolina. At her next stop in the athletic department at the University of Tennessee she worked in academic support, providing mentoring and guidance to multiple men’s and women’s teams. Kendra continued her work in education for the Community Schools strategy at the Knox Education Foundation by connecting educators, community, parents, and students to maximize growth and outcomes for all involved. Currently, Kendra works at Social Finance, a national impact finance and advisory nonprofit where they work with the public, private, and social sectors to create partnerships and investments to help people and communities realize improved outcomes in education, economic mobility, health, and housing. Outside of her professional career, Kendra has spent most of the last decade serving in student ministry as a small group leader and more recently in student ministry leadership at Faith Promise Church. Kendra is passionate about all young people having someone in their corner who is committed to knowing them fully, loving them deeply, and helping them grow and develop.
Kenya: Student-athlete and ministry leader are the roles that have marked most of Kenya’s life up until this point. Through her positions on her teams and from the sport of wrestling, she has learned what it means to be a team player and intentionally encourage the people around her as well as how to work hard and learn to lean into discipline. Her roles in ministry have set her up to talk to, understand, and be compassionate towards all types of people. In the local churches she has been a member of, both in Tennessee and in Kentucky, she has been responsible for student volunteer teams, planning and facilitating gatherings and events, preparing for speaking engagements, etc. Kenya is also the co-author of Can We Go to Lunch? which documents the ways in which her life and future have been inspired and impacted through the means of a good friendship and intentional mentorship. Her hope is that by sharing the story of how her mentor was obedient to God and loved her well, other such relationships will be encouraged and thus impact the lives of teenagers exponentially.