|Chino Valley High School students mentor children at Del Rio Elementary in a supervised program through Big Brothers, Big Sisters, with both Bigs and Littles making memories and successes through the school year.|
Chino Valley Review
Crystal Patton has seen academic improvement in her son, Wyatt, 11, thanks to the Chino Valley High School students who volunteer as Big Brothers and Sisters. Each week elementary school students are matched with their "Bigs" in the Del Rio gym, for play and study time.
"They go over the multiplication and division tables, and make it fun. It's not like at home. Academically it's been the best thing," said Patton.
The "Littles," are students from Del Rio. The meetings are coordinated in a safe, supervised environment, and the location allows high school students without transportation to perform a valuable community service.
"I love community service," said Chino Valley High School student Kayden Windsor, 15.
"Usually we finish his homework, then we read," he said of Wyatt. "And then we go out to the playground and I chase him around!"
The school-based mentoring program started in Yavapai County in 1994. Mentoring was recognized by the governor in 2004 as a significant component in helping children succeed in school, and has been incorporated into juvenile probation, and the state behavioral health system.
"Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters partnered with Harvard University's Department of Education 'Project If' in 2004 to conduct research on the effects of mentoring. This, along with research from the Yavapai Juvenile Court System, created a strong, well researched case for the positive effects of mentoring on the population of at-risk children," said Cory Jenkins, marketing and recruitment director, in an email to the Chino Valley Review.
Wyatt and Kayden have been matched for one year.
"I have two little brothers and I wanted somebody older than me," said Wyatt. "If you're the oldest brother, you finally get somebody who knows what you're talking about. They know stuff better than you. We built a volcano and it blew up and there was green stuff all over the place. I don't care how long it took us to clean it up, it was fun!"
The bond between Kayden and Wyatt has grown more meaningful over this past year. Wyatt's family is impressed with the quality of their interactions.
"He's amazing!" said Crystal, Wyatt's mom. "My mother, (Wyatt's grandmother), was worried at first. But when she got to meet him she said, 'He's awesome!'"
Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters has 30 children in the Chino Valley-Paulden area waiting to enjoy the benefits of partnering with a mentor.
Adults and high school students can begin the application process by calling 928-778-5135, and scheduling an interview.
"It will be one the highlights of your high school years," said Kayden. "It's a reminder that all people are going through things. It's something so memorable, and it's constantly fun."