Amazingly positive impact
As the school counselor for 460 students at Aspen Middle School, I have seen the tremendous positive impact that mentoring has on our students.
Started at AMS in 2003, The Buddy Program’s School-Based Mentoring Program was originally intended to address kids on the Community Program waitlist. It provided volunteers with a tighter schedule a different way to be involved, thus matching more students with adult mentors. Now entering the sixth year of Aspen Middle School’s collaboration with The Buddy Program, our school has 13 matches in the school-based program and 20 matches in our Peer-to-Peer Program, which pairs Aspen High School students with our middle school students.
Students who are matched with Buddies in the school programs come from all walks of life. Latino, Caucasian, Asian, and African American students and volunteers meet once a week over their lunch and recess periods to chat, play games, build remote control cars and radios, teach each other crafts, play with pets, or find the bottom of a locker that hasn’t been seen since the first week of school.
Whether the student has one, two, or sometimes four parents, I can personally attest to the fact that the attention they receive one-on-one from their Buddies is life-changing. Each week, the most amazing and dedicated volunteers I have ever worked with show up diligently, greeted by a gigantic bear hug or a high-five. The pairs usually try something that the student (or volunteer) hasn’t done before, like summiting the climbing wall at the Aspen Recreation Center or ice skating. Oftentimes, the pairs just grab lunch at the high school and catch up on the week’s events. The kids have told me how cool it is to have someone fun and older meet their friends and really take interest in their personal life.
I have personally seen the students involved in this program increase their sense of responsibility. If they are going to be gone for a field trip, students who have not remembered their homework once all year take time to plan ahead and come find me so that we can call their Buddy to reschedule their meeting for that week. Teachers here are constantly amazed at the positive influence these Big Buddies have on their students.
All of the numbers and statistics in the world can’t prove to anyone how important this program is to our students until you see these matches together. For the students involved in this program, having a Buddy often provides the only positive thing they can name about school, which may otherwise be a struggle for them, academically or socially.
I want to take time to send a special thanks to all to the Buddies who work with the students at Aspen Middle School. Thank you for taking the time to be a part of the amazingly positive impact that this program has on our children here at AMS.
Counselor, Aspen Middle School
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The city of Aspen’s Next Generation Advisory Board is all but defunct due to a lack of interest and participation.