Students mentor children in new program
For a few years, the university has incorporated a new way to serve the community in the form of mentoring. The program with Tyler Elementary gives the opportunity for the mentor and student to build long-lasting relationships with one another.
Professor in the Exercise and Sport Science Department Dr. Mickey Kerr said there is no formal name for the mentor program, which began in September 2010.
Chelsie Kelley is the community and school site director.
Kerr said, “Chelsie at Tyler Elementary called and wanted to know if we had any students that would like to come over and mentor a child. The students go over to the school in Belton, and they will meet during the child’s lunch. This is just once a week.”
He described the daily routine.
“They just go over there and talk with them and visit with them and just kind of are an older brother or sister to serve as a role model or mentor,” Kerr said.
This semester, 12 students are mentoring and must meet stipulations in order to participate.
“I get the names to Chelsie Kelley, and they, of course, have to go through background checks, and then once that is complete, she gives me the names and times of students available, and I help to match up our students with their students,” he said.
Although Kerr has never officially been a mentor to someone, he has offered free batting and pitching lessons. He thinks it is important for others to volunteer whether they play sports or not.
“I have always encouraged our students to volunteer. We volunteer at track meets and for Special Olympics and things like that. This is just another aspect of it,” he said.
His desire is for the teens to become engaged in extracurricular activities in their local area.
“I want them to get into the habit of wanting to get involved in the community wherever they go to school or work,” Kerr said.
He believes helping adolescents is important.
“I think this is a great opportunity to serve as a role model. Our youth really need role models, particularly with a lot of the scandals going on today. I think it is really important for students of college age to realize how valuable volunteering is.”
One of the students participating this year is senior sport management major Javicz Jones. He hopes that by mentoring the children, they will learn to choose the right paths in life.
“Dr. Kerr mentioned that we have a volunteer program, and as soon as he said that I jumped right on it. I have been a mentor for about a year now for the school. I have always wanted to be a role model; there are a lot of things that come with that responsibility,” Jones said.
He stressed the need to live correctly.
“You have to live right and do the right thing the right way, especially when you get around the children. You have to talk to them and try to find out what is going on,” he said.
Kelley is the mediator of the program.
“I help to get everyone together and if their kid is not here, I will call the volunteer and let them know. The children love when they come to visit,” she said.
Prior to her job, Kelley had mentored before, and the experience has made quite an impact on her chosen career.
She said, “I loved it (mentoring) and that is why I have my job today. I am kind of like the social worker on campus. Just having that relationship with kids beforehand, before my job, kind of gave me the experience, and that let me know that this is what I wanted to do for my job,” she said.