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Devin D. Thorpe
Devin Thorpe

CNN Hero Chad Bernstein Offers Keys For Mentoring Youth



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CNN Hero Chad Bernstein is a career musician, professor and founder of Guitars Over Guns, a nonprofit that helps at-risk youth connect to adult mentors through the arts.

Drawing on his decades of work with kids, offers these three key insights for being an effective mentor to a child.

  1. Be the adult in a child’s life. The single most important factor in a child’s success is a relationship with a caring adult. Finding an avenue through which we can connect with youth. The arts are a great potential avenue, but meeting a student at their point of interest and respecting that is the key.
  2. Show up and listen. There are two keys to building trust between a mentor and a student: First, show up and be present. There is no replacement for time and consistency is key. If you continue to come back, even after a kid has done something to push you away, you are building trust. The second is the to understand the importance of creating a safe place, free of judgement. Vulnerability is paramount to creating trust and it goes both ways.
  3. Be committed. When you commit to being a mentor, you are committing to be there for the hard times as well as the triumphs, and they are equally important. Be a shoulder when it’s needed, but also don’t underestimate the value of being their champion. “You can’t un-see success,” and that feeling of “being successful” builds on itself. Sometimes, a kid just needs to have someone in their corner supporting them and letting them know that they are being seen when they make the right choices. There are certainly plenty of people in their lives that are there to let them know when they are not.

On Wednesday, April 27, 2016 at 7:00 PM Eastern, Chad will join me here for a live discussion about his work and his insights into being a good mentor and friend to a child. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.

More about Guitars Over Guns:

Twitter: @guitarsoverguns

Instagram: @guitarsoverguns

We believe that all young people should have the opportunity to reach their full potential through the transformative nature of music and the arts and the power of mentorship. GOGO uses popular music to connect professional musicians with at-risk youth in after-school programs as an alternative to the negative and harmful influences that typically dominate their environments. These mentors take students through the artistic learning process where they form meaningful relationships. It is through these relationships that our mentors help students navigate the challenges they face and equip them with the tools they need to become successful in and out of school.

Chad Bernstein, courtesy of Guitars Over Guns

Chad Bernstein created a program to help at-risk youth, courtesy of Guitars Over Guns

Chad’s bio:

Twitter: @chadbernstein

Chad is the co-founder and CEO of Guitars Over Guns Organization (“GOGO”), a music-mentoring program for at-risk youth. He has a doctorate from the University of Miami, teaches at FIU, and is an active member of the South Florida music scene as a multi-instrumentalist, bandleader, sideman, and writer. Chad is a Governor on the board of the Recording Academy (Grammys) and serves as the Chairman of the Education Committee. He has worked with Pharrell, Pitbull, Shakira, will.i.am, Natalie Cole, Chaka Kahn, John Legend, Phil Ramone, and many more. He is currently a member of Miami groups The Spam Allstars and Suénalo, the Musical Director for Jencarlos Canela, and working on a global funk project with Pee Wee Ellis. In April of 2015, Chad was honored as a CNN Hero for his work with Guitars Over Guns.

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Devin D. Thorpe

2 Responses to CNN Hero Chad Bernstein Offers Keys For Mentoring Youth

  • Local awesomery!

  • This is one reason that going to addiction support meetings are important….sharing your story and imperfectness…showing up and listening….continuing to show up showing commitment

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