WASHINGTON – First lady Laura Bush (search) on Thursday said that spending time with kids brings real benefits in keeping them out of trouble and urged more adults to become mentors.
"At the end of the day the most important contribution mentors make is spending time and attention with the child," Mrs. Bush told about 700 people at the Big Brothers Big Sisters (search) conference.
The first lady cited programs around the country that offer mentoring to children and took the opportunity to tout her initiative, Helping America's Youth (search), which stresses that every child needs a caring adult — a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, teacher, coach or mentor.
Mrs. Bush talked about the things that can sidetrack a child — smoking, drinking, drugs, pressures to have sex, gangs and violence — and how caring adults can help steer them away from such trouble. And with 50 million children in the United States, there is no shortage of need, she added.
She highlighted various programs around the country that are improving the lives of young people, including Think Detroit, which recruits volunteer coaches who incorporate lessons about positive character development into every practice and every game.
CeaseFire Chicago, which she visited last week, brings together clergy, police officers, parents, teachers, doctors and others with the goal of stopping gang-related violence.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a youth mentoring organization serving 225,000 youth ages 6 through 18 in 5,000 communities.