Mentoring creates positive impacts on the lives of youth, improving marks and boosting their chances of staying in school.In 2010, youths aged 15 to 34 constituted 37% of the South African population, numbering 19,1 million. Young people in today’s world grapple with socio-economic challenges, which will ultimately impact on their ability to access opportunities in future. They are also vulnerable in the labour market, so levels of youth unemployment are high. 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 South African Breweries’ (SAB) 18+ Be The Mentor programme that aims to promote harm reduction, reduce under-age drinking and contribute to broader change in communities, young people are encouraged to gain self-confidence and improve their attitudes and behaviour. The programme works via the company’s digital mentorship programme and a network of SAB’s Smart Drinking Squad, who give guidance to peer mentors on how to avoid the negative effects of alcohol abuse and under-age drinking. They also provide support in other aspects of their lives. According to a survey conducted by HDI-Youth Marketeers, one in two teenagers is an active consumer of alcohol within the average SA home. “At some stage during high school, 49% of learners interviewed have consumed alcohol and 15% males and 8% females have had their first drink before the age of 13,” said Refilwe Masemola, SAB communications director. “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 the whole society.”A good mentor should be a great communicator, be available, approachable, honest, objective, genuine and passionate. “As a mentor, you should look out for teachable moments,” Masemola says. “This means using real-life moments to teach your group of youths 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 youths.”Those wishing to make the 18+ pledge to be an active mentor can visit www.bethementor.sab.co.za, where the guidelines – “All you need to know on what it takes to be a mentor” – are available. The campaign also has a toll-free line for youth: 0800 33 33 77.