Mentoring program expanding in HCS

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United Way formed One Hour Revolution

By Amber Coulter

A mentoring program in Hardin County Schools is expanding in the hope of encouraging children to perform to the best of their ability, set goals and have high self-esteem.

The program, One Hour Revolution, was established by two AmeriCorps VISTAs working through United Way of Central Kentucky.

It connects children for one hour each week during the school year each with their own mentor who shares similar interests or complimentary needs or personalities.

The children and their mentors spend that time doing homework, working together on special activities or passing the time in other ways.

Gabrielle Litwin, one of the program coordinators, has seen one mentor and mentee soaring paper airplanes through a school hallway and all the mentors and mentees at one school organize an impromptu football game.

It began halfway through this past school year serving Meadow View, Radcliff and Woodland elementary schools.

This year, organizers plan to add Vine Grove Elementary School and James T. Alton and North middle schools to the schools offering the program. They hope that all schools in the district will eventually have the mentoring opportunity.

Organizers are seeking volunteers and students at the six schools who want to be part of the program. They also are accepting in-kind donations, such as school supplies and materials for crafts.

All students are eligible, though the program is particularly aimed at helping at-risk kids.

Mentors must pass a Hardin County Schools background check and be positive role models. They must be at least 18 years old or 16 or 17 with a parent’s permission.

Jennifer Johnson, one of the program coordinators for the project, said mentors are making a commitment, and it’s important that they honor it.

Those who do typically find the experience rewarding and develop an important bond with their mentees, she said.

“Money comes and goes, but time is something that you can never get back, so to volunteer your time says a lot about that person,” she said.

Johnson said mentees tend to look up to their partners like favorite aunts and uncles, and it is common for them to show improvement over the long term in grades, behavior and attendance.

“It’s not just, ‘I’m getting that one on one,’” she said. “It’s, ‘I’m part of something. There are other kids like me.’”

Organizers are working to establish a summer mentoring program for the students who were served this past school year. It might be offered to new students entering the program.

Litwin and Johnson are working to establish the program in schools a few at a time and make sure it’s self-sustaining so that it can continue when they move on to other work.

For more information or to express interest in being or getting a mentor, e-mail Litwin at Gabriele.litwin@hardin.kyschools.us or Johnson at jennie.johnson@hardin.kyschools.us or visit www.onehourrevolution .org or the One Hour Revolution Facebook page.

Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or acoulter@thenewsenterprise.com.