01/24/06 — Mentoring program for teens

View Archive

Mentoring program for teens

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 24, 2006 1:47 PM

Majesty Phillips, 12, a sixth-grader at Goldsboro Middle School, doesn't worry about talking to her mentor, Jerrica Ashford.

They share the same interests -- cheerleading, shopping and talking about boys.

But, most importantly, Majesty said she likes her mentor in the Building Better Teens program, "because I can trust her."

Jerrica, 17, knew she was taking on a big responsibility when she agreed to become part of the Family YMCA program. The Goldsboro High School senior liked the idea of helping someone else find her way.

"You have to set some kind of example," she said. "I think I'm a good person, and want to be if somebody's looking up to me and emulating some of the things I do."

The program is part of a three-year 21st Century Grant through the 4-H program and Wayne County Public Schools. Since last spring, mentors have participated in after school programs at Dillard, Goldsboro, and Brogden middle schools.

Family YMCA mentor coordinator Duffy Huffman said high school students are being matched with middle school students one day a week to help with tutoring as well as life skills and building relationships. The grant is set up to have 15 students at each school, but currently has closer to 10.

Recruitment efforts from area high schools are under way, she said. So far, volunteers have come from Eastern Wayne, Goldsboro, Southern Wayne, and Charles B. Aycock high schools. Young men are especially needed in the program, she said.

"We try to see who would work well together," Ms. Huffman said.

Training is provided before placing the students. There is also an application process, which includes getting a teacher reference and a parent permission form, and a background check to ensure safety for all involved, she said.

In addition to the fun and companionship generated through the program, Ms. Huffman said many students also collect service hours and experience to put on a college application.

"I have seen a pretty positive outcome," she said. "For the most part, they seem to enjoy it."

That has been true for Jerrica and Majesty.

"I thought it would be fun," Jerrica said. "It was a little different than I expected. We just come in here and talk and play games."

As part of the mentor's commitment to attend the weekly program one day a week, students help with homework, have guest speakers and this year will also go on field trips.

To find out more about becoming a mentor in the program, contact Ms. Huffman at the Family YMCA, 778-8557.