Benefits of being a Big Buddy
Dear Editor:As the school counselor for 414 students at Aspen Middle School, I have seen the tremendous positive impact that The Buddy Program has on our students. And, with school starting next week as well as a Big Buddy recruitment effort, I felt compelled to write to encourage people to come to the Riverside Grill in Basalt tonight, Aug. 29, between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. to learn a bit more about mentoring and to consider becoming a Big Buddy.Started at AMS in 2003, the school-based mentoring program was originally intended to address kids on the community program wait-list. Additionally, it provided volunteers with a tighter schedule a different way to be a part of this program, thus matching more students with adult mentors.Students who are matched with buddies in the school program 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. Even in the healthiest of households, rarely is one child guaranteed one solid hour of positive attention focusing on whatever it is that the child wants to do or learn more about. 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 kids have told me how “cool” it is to have someone fun and older meet their friends and really take interest in their personal lives. 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.On a personal note, I am approaching the one-year anniversary of being matched with my Little Buddy in the community program. Spending time with her is one of the most amazing and fun things I do. For everything that I have mentioned above as a benefit for the kids, I can personally attest to the fact that it is just as beneficial being a mentor and having someone remind you every week what it means to just go out and play.Thank you for taking the time to consider the amazingly positive impact that this program has on our children here at the Aspen Middle School. Hope to see you at Riverside Grill on Tuesday, Aug. 29!Molly Kridel, M.Ed.Counselor, Aspen Middle School
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