03/21/12 — New 4-H program planned for military, Latino youths

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New 4-H program planned for military, Latino youths

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 21, 2012 1:46 PM

Youth and mentors are being recruited to participate in a new 4-H program, targeting two specific groups in Wayne County -- military and Latinos.

The effort is called Youth and Families with Promise, said Bianca Wall, coordinator of the program.

"This program will consist of the kids getting involved in 4-H clubs, either of their own making or in ones that already exist that include their interests as well as getting involved in 4-H activities such as public speaking, cooking competitions and talent shows so they can learn real-life skills," she said. "It will also include what we call 'Family Night Out' where the whole family will come to an event once a month.

"It is difficult for many families to find free time to spend together, and this is something Youth and Families with Promise hopes to assist with."

Ms. Wall said she has already been developing the Latino group and is focusing on efforts to enlist children of military families.

"As far as being a military group -- I was a military kid myself. I understand how moving around can be difficult," she said. "We're hoping that this will give them something stable because 4-H pretty much is in areas around the country."

Beyond participants, though, it's the one-on-one mentoring that will be key, she said.

"Mentoring can be very rewarding for those who are able to participate and it can lead to lasting relationships and friendships," she said.

The focus will be supporting them academically, as well as in the areas of social skills and family bonds.

"Each child -- 10-14 years old -- will have a mentor who they will meet with four times a month, one of those being in a 4-H club setting," Ms. Wall explained. "The mentor and the youth will be expected to come up with activities or subjects that they have a common interest in. This will be an opportunity for the youth to learn something that they wish to learn about. ...

"And once a month will be a family night out, another core thing of our mission, to strengthen family bonds."

Mentors will be adults, although high school seniors will be considered, as long as they are at least four years older than the youth they are paired to help.

"They'll meet with them three times a month, focus on life skills, form relationships with someone outside their family and their school group -- they're someone who will be there in their life," she said.

A kick-off event for the Latino group will be held April 14 at 4 p.m. at Wayne Center.

Ms. Wall said she is currently working on a grant through N.C. Cooperative Extension and N.C. State University that will support the program for the next eight years.

For more information on the program or becoming a participant or mentor, call 731-1506 or write Bianca.Wall@waynegov.com.