Sunday, February 01, 2015

September 4, 2012 – It’s Better Together – by Joel Repic

Some things just work better when you put them together – a plug and an outlet, a lawnmower and gasoline, or a computer and a modem.  Any of these items alone simply can’t achieve their full potential.

At Aliquippa Impact, our positive youth development approach means that we take seriously the holistic involvement of community partners to better serve young people.  Studies have shown that children and youth need a variety of support systems playing a variety of roles to aid in their flourishing and developmental health – but they flourish even more when these various support systems work in tandem to provide opportunities for young people.

In May 2012, we were pleased to announce our new official partnership with the Aliquippa School District. Aliquippa Impact will be playing a variety of support roles to the district in the future (you’ll be hearing about those soon), but initially we have been working with Aliquippa Elementary School to provide a school-based mentoring program to students.

In school-based mentoring, students from the 3rd to 6th grade will receive a safe, caring adult who will be a source of stability, support, and encouragement.  These mentors are given access to the school during the day at least once a week.  Mentors meet with young people during lunch or a free period to provide support and stability.  The child and the mentor eat together, talk with one another, listen to each other’s viewpoints and personal stories, play board games, do educational activities, participate in crafts, or contribute to the school hrough service activities.  Throughout the week, our mentors are faithfully praying for their mentees even when they’re apart.

As time progresses, bonds of friendship and trust are built between the mentor and the mentee. Multiple studies have demonstrated that for young people facing manifold risk factors, the support of a mentor can make an enormous difference in student behavior, emotional health, the development of pro-social norms, and academic performance. Furthermore, the involvement of a school-based mentor in the life of a child can significantly reduce the likelihood of harmful and risky behaviors by the student in the future.  Mentors have the opportunity to speak truth to young people, model positive behavior, and exhibit the character qualities of Christ.

Aliquippa Impact currently has a strong foundation of mentoring in our community through our one-to-one program.  Now, the expansion of our programming into school-based mentoring will mean reaching even more children with the benefits of mentoring.   We believe that by the end of 2014, we will have 30 mentors actively supporting children in the Aliquippa Elementary School.

Last week, Aliquippa Elementary School teachers made their way into the school cafeteria to enjoy a catered lunch provided by Aliquippa Impact.  At the lunch, our school-based mentoring coordinator, Jamyra Harrell, explained the benefits of mentoring to the teachers and the mechanics of the new mentoring program.  It marked the first time Aliquippa Impact has made significant contact with school faculty members although both the school’s staff and our staff serve many of the very same students.  Later on when Jamyra was present during the first week of school, many summer City Camp attendees were greeting her with waves and smiles, surprised to see “Miss Jamyra” in the school and not only in the Linmar Community Center.

We hope this is the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership with the Aliquippa School District in terms of mentoring, and we hope it is a continued story of community stakeholders coming together for the sake of Aliquippa youth.  Some things just work better when you put them together.

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