The afterschool program at Augusta Lewis Troup school provides a safe and productive environment for the children enrolled in the program coming from the surrounding neighborhoods. Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) is one of the Boost! wrap-around services offered to the students to support their social and academic growth through mentoring. BBBS has joined forces with Troup and Metropolitan Business Academy to support at-risk students as they learn and grow with alternative tools to promote their relationships with peers, relationships with teacher/adults and their attendance. The children in our program are each paired with high school student volunteers from Metropolitan, also located in New Haven only a few minutes away. These high school mentors provide Troup students with a one-on-one relationship that can help them make leaps and bounds through individualized attention. They act as a confidant, who helps with homework and provides them with a positive role model, close to their own age which makes the goal of being a successful high school student obtainable.
One of our biggest success stories thus far is the help our mentors provide with homework. The children are encouraged to do their homework properly and in full, then rewarded with games and interactive play for completing the task. At the beginning of every meeting the children work on their assignments and really enjoy the help from their Big Brother or Sister. It is encouraging and exciting to see them working together on their homework as well as reading to each other for fun. This builds the child’s confidence in their reading skills and ability to complete assigned work. The relationships forming between the children and volunteers are becoming stronger with every meeting as they to get to know each other.
Although the program is coming along very nicely, we are seeing challenges in our lack of materials and space, as well as addressing minor conflicts among the students. We have been working around these problems using our creativity and the wonderful ideas from our high school volunteers. The amazing efforts that have been put forth on all sides are really inspiring. Many of the children in our program were recommended as a result of behavioral or academic issues; through working with their Big Brother or Sister they have been able to improve their behavior in the afterschool program and complete their homework with more confidence. We are off to a great start at Troup and BBBS looks forward to the promising future of Tuesday and Thursday afternoons spent with our new matches!