Seven-year-old Christian and high school senior Matt McKinley are great examples of the positive connections that can be made through YouthFriends Corps high school mentoring. Matt and Christian read together two to three times a week in Kathy Brown's second grade class at Glenwood Ridge Elementary.
"Matt helps me with learning my letters and saying my words right." Christian said. "I like it when he comes. He's cool. He listens to me and we talk and stuff."
This is Matt's second year as a YouthFriends Corps high school mentor, also known as a “Care Cat” within Basehor Linwood USD 458. He has earned more than 150 hours in three semesters, making him the top Care Cat among 70, and the 2007 homecoming district honoree.
"I have a job outside of school that pays me money." Matt said. "What I do as a Care Cat pays me in other ways--smiles, high fives. Christian gets this accomplished look on his face when he is able to read a sentence for the first time...putting together all the words...it's not easy. I get such a kick out of being there and hearing the happy in his voice when he reads."
As a young reader, Matt remembers that he also struggled at times.
"Having a YouthFriend makes all the difference," he said. I look back and I remember the people that I read to. I would have liked to have had a YouthFriend, too. This is such an important program for high school kids like me and for the students we get to mentor. I've never thought of myself as a role model but I can see myself in Christian's eyes and it is amazing."
Christian’s mother, Christina, is grateful for the difference Matt has made in her son’s life. “I think it [the YouthFriends Corps program] is excellent,” she said. “Christian loves the time he gets to spend with Matt—he is such a great support. I know Christian loves to read with his Dad and me –and his teacher too – but it’s just special with Matt.”
Basehor Linwood USD 458 is unique in that it offers YouthFriends Corps as a high school elective class for half-credit as a pass/fail. The class is available each semester to juniors and seniors. All service hours go toward the National Points of Light certificate, college entry requirements, a silver honor cord at commencement and a well-rounded resume.
You can also download this article as part of the Fall 2007 newsletter, located on page 4.
Also, visit another original article on Matt and Christian, located at Basehorinfo.com .
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