Do you have a message of hope to share with the wider community? How do you respond when you watch the television news and you see helpless babies and young children injured by war, explosions, violence, displacement or through some other event beyond their control? I find it too overwhelming and switch off the television. When we can, my wife and I donate to causes supporting such people. However, I continue to struggle, as I watch a world being torn apart by senseless wars, and a toothless and totally ineffective United Nations being held to ransom by a few countries who have the power of veto in the Security Council.

I am a retired educator, one who has been frustrated many times when politics gets in the way of the holistic education of our young people. Again, I have felt helpless and increasingly frustrated. What can I do to make a positive difference?

When I retired six years ago, I began to write some more books. I had already written books promoting teacher-mentors, peer mentoring, and books offering fun activities for the ongoing training of mentors and peer mentors. However, I still felt the desire to inspire, motivate and encourage others messages of hope. It is so important that we encourage young people to chase their dreams. I had so many true stories to share.

Messages of hope

My Christian faith had moved into a deeper place, and I prayed fervently about how I could make this positive difference. As I was retiring, I felt God telling me that there was a book for Christian educators to be written.  I shared the idea with publishers and one showed an interest and encouraged me to write the book.  When it was ready they felt they would not be the best publisher to market such a book,  yet, after consulting some educators, they acknowledged this book was needed. A friend suggested I approach the US publisher, Wipf & Stock. I did so, and they offered to publish the book.

Six years later, they have published five books, as I collated my mentoring and faith experiences, all user-friendly books promoting the spirit of mentoring in different ways. While I have not achieved the sales of the books by J. K. Rowling (all authors dream of such success), I have been able to share my thoughts and experiences, and to offer practical and proven strategies to inspire others to achieve their potential.

A few days ago, I received a message from my publisher to say that my final mentoring book was officially published and available to the global community. MENTOR: Strategies to Inspire Young People – Support for Mentors, Educators, Parents, Youth Workers, and Coaches. After between eight and ten rewrites, it is incredibly humbling and satisfying to see the book finally published, made even more gratifying when my copies were delivered to my doorstep. I am grateful to so many people who read the draft and offered to endorse it, to Wipf & Stock and their team for backing me, and, of course, to my family for their ongoing support.

I have never had a book launch, partly because my books were published during the pandemic. A friend working in the youth mentoring field has offered to assist me with a book launch. I look forward to this occasion as a celebration of six years of writing.

In the meantime, what is the latest book about?

Interview with Robin Cox

  1. Why did you write this book?

Much of the recent research about the impact of COVID-19 on communities has highlighted increased levels of anxiety and depression. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is also impacting education in a significant way, while social media platforms continue to expand at a rapid rate. Yet, little seems to be planned for guiding young people to develop meaningful relationships with their peers and others. This book speaks into that space, and advocates for a global spirit of mentoring movement.

  1. What is unique or special about this book?

I have done extensive reading of research about youth mentoring, and the health and wellbeing of young people. There is little about effective pastoral care and mentoring of young people post the pandemic. I wanted to share some of the key findings of research in a user-friendly book, and provide proven strategies to encourage young people to fulfil their unique potential which I have gathered from over 50 years working as an educator, youth mentor program developer, and peer mentor program developer. I have not read a similar book written since the pandemic.

  1. Who is your intended audience?

In reality anyone who interacts with young people—educators, mentors, parents, youth workers, coaches, grandparents and family relatives (whanau).

  1. Anything significant about the Cover?

My family thought I had chosen the cover, as I am a recreational fisherman. Not the case. I love the cover designed by Savanah Landerholm at Wipf and Stock, my US publishers. When I communicated with her about it, she felt the analogy (adapted): ‘Give a person a fish, and you feed them for a day. Teach a person to fish, and you feed them for a lifetime,’ is so apt to the spirit of mentoring concepts shared in the book. Brilliant!

  1. How do you know there is a need for this book?

Look at the daily news and the statistics about young people playing truant from school, joining unruly gangs; the abuse of drugs and alcohol; so much antisocial behavior; the tragedy of the number of young people taking their lives. There is a better way moving forward and that’s what is covered in this book. There are many true stories – messages of hope – included as an encouragement to the reader.

6. What are three key points to take away after reading this book?

(i) Every life matters.

(ii) Every life has a story—empathize and try and walk in the shoes of the young people with whom we interact to understand them better.

(iii) Young people want to be loved and cared for; they want to feel valued; they want to know that life has meaning and purpose. Become a non-judgmental cheerleader in their lives.

  1. Any last thoughts?

I remind readers a number of times in the book that the brain is still developing until a person is in their mid-twenties. So, as adults we need to be kind to ourselves when we move alongside young people on a journey through one of the most confusing times of their lives; we must not have unreal expectations; we must strive to be the wise guide on the side; we can look to share messages of hope;  we must have a great sense of humor and have lots of fun with the young people with whom we interact, always striving to be a positive person of influence. This book is a great reference book to which readers can return time and time again, along with my other recent mentoring books: CHOICES: Encouraging Youth to Achieve Greatness, and Mentoring Minutes: Weekly Messages to Encourage Anyone Guiding Youth.

A curtain is coming down on the most amazing creative season of my life to date. I wonder what is next? How can I continue to do my best to make a positive difference in our global community with my God-given talents, to keep sharing messages of hope? I am listening for that still small voice.

It is one of the highlights of anyone’s life, I am sure, to see someone they have been coaching or mentoring, attain a dream. I have always been inspired by the song ‘The Impossible Dream’ (The Quest) composed by Mitch Leigh, with the lyrics by Joe Darion, for the 1965 Broadway Musical, Man of La Mancha – a powerful message of hope to share with anyone.