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How Youth Mentorship Can Help Shape Our Country

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Mentoring creates positive impacts in the lives of youths, improving marks along with their chances of staying in school.

In 2010, youth in South Africa, people aged 15-34, constituted 37% of the population, numbering 19.1 million individuals. Young people in today’s world grapple with socio-economic challenges which will ultimately impact on their ability to access opportunities in their future. They are also vulnerable in the labour market, with high levels of youth unemployment.

Peer mentors are friends, advisers, role models, coaches or companions who can fill existing gaps in support and help teenagers to navigate stress, peer pressure and other negative influences in their lives.

Through mentorship programmes, such as the SAB 18+ Be The Mentor programme, which aims to promote harm reduction, reduce underage drinking and contribute to broader change in communities, youth gain self-confidence and improve in attitude and behaviour.

The SAB 18+ Be The Mentor mentorship programme works via its digital mentorship programme ( and a network of SAB’s Smart Drinking Squad (SDS) who give guidance to peer mentors on how to avoid the negative effects of alcohol abuse and underage drinking. They also provide support in other aspects of their lives.

Refilwe Masemola, SAB Communications Director, said the programme is important because according to a Survey Conducted by HDI-Youth Marketeers (, one in two teenagers is an active consumer of alcohol within the average South African home.

“At some stage during high school, 49% of learners interviewed have consumed alcohol, and 15% of males and 8% of females have had their first drink before the age of 13,” Masemola said. “These stats are alarming and come with many social ills and negative consequences. Be The Mentor recognises that these social ills require the attention of whole society.”

A good mentor should be a great communicator, be available, approachable, honest, objective, genuine and passionate. 

“As a mentor, you should keep an eye out for teachable moments. This means using real life moments to teach your group of mentors some of the lessons they need to understand. Approach challenges from a place of optimism and possibility. Finally, what you do is as important as what you say. Use your behaviour to promote learning and positive development in your mentors.”

For those that wish to make the 18+ pledge to be an active mentor, visit

“All you need to know on what it takes to be a mentor” is also available on the website for guidance.

The campaign has a toll-free line for youth to call, should they need any help (0800 33 33 77).

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