The Blue Springs R-IV School District has a rich history of providing quality educational programming for students and is highly regarded within its service area, the state, and the nation. Schools are both enhanced and enriched through local PTA units, “Adopt-A-School” partnerships, and caring adults who take an active role in the lives of students. The district recognizes the importance of helping all students achieve success and is committed to working with families and the community at large to make this goal a reality.
What is YouthFriends?
YouthFriends is a Kansas City area school-based mentoring program that connects young people with caring adults. YouthFriends volunteers are adult role models who give of their time, energy, and talent and, in so doing, positively impact students. YouthFriends volunteers encourage healthy behaviors, enhance self-esteem, and promote successful outcomes, which ultimately builds stronger communities. YouthFriends currently exists in more than 90 area school districts, including Blue Springs. YouthFriends began in 1995 as a joint initiative of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, YMCA, Partnership for Children, the Heart of America United Way, and six metropolitan school districts.
YouthFriends volunteers come from every walk of life, meet with young people individually or in small groups, and engage in a variety of activities such as mentoring, tutoring, being a “Lunch Buddy” or “Reading Pal,” serving as a classroom aide, or sharing a special project. The average time commitment for a YouthFriends volunteer is one hour per week for an entire school year. All YouthFriends volunteers are screened and must attend a comprehensive training session before being matched with a student. YouthFriends activities are limited to school property, completed during regular school hours, and require parental consent for a student to participate. There is no fee for participation and students generally are involved at the suggestion of school staff. YouthFriends is “fun, flexible, and makes a difference!”
A 1994 study conducted on Kansas City youth revealed that what young people want most in their lives is more quality time spent with positive, caring adults. Although YouthFriends is a resource for all students in grades K-12, at-risk youth are most likely to participate in the program.
Since the inception of YouthFriends in 1995, school counselors, teachers, and parents have witnessed remarkable growth in respect to students’ attitudes, behaviors, and academic progress. On the average, participating school districts have experienced significant gains pertaining to student’s perception of their ability to succeed in school, behavior (i.e., based upon the reduction in the number of discipline referrals), and achievement/performance (i.e., test scores, grades).
District YouthFriends Opportunities
YouthFriends volunteers can mentor students in grades K-5 at all thirteen of the district’s elementary schools. School names by geographic location are represented as follows: north – Lucy Franklin, James Lewis, Sunny Pointe; central – Franklin Smith, James Walker, John Nowlin, Thomas Ultican, William Bryant; south – Cordill-Mason, Daniel Young; and west – Chapel Lakes, Voy Spears Jr., William Yates. A variety of mentoring opportunities are available to YouthFriends volunteers including:
- Study Buddy – Provides assistance to a student or group of students who need academic
help for 30 minutes per week throughout the school year (minimum of 4 weeks).
- Lunch Buddy – Eats and enjoys fun conversation with a student or group of students
during the lunch period for 25 minutes per week throughout the school year
(minimum of 4 weeks).
- Reading Pal/Buddy – Reads and/or is read to by a student or group of students for 30
minutes to an hour a week throughout the school year (minimum of 4 weeks).
- Recess Buddy – Listens to, talks with, does homework with, and/or plays games with a
student or group of students for 30 minutes a week throughout the school year
(minimum of 4 weeks).
- Career Coach – Shares information with a group or class of students about a chosen
career field periodically throughout the school year (minimum of 4 presentations).
- Special Activities – YouthFriends actively encourages the development of any new
activities that link positive adult role models with students. Special activities
should be discussed in detail with the school’s YouthFriends Building Liaison
before being conducted/implemented.
Who Do I Contact?
In order to research the possibility of becoming a YouthFriends volunteer, please contact your closest elementary school building connector or the district’s program coordinator – David Brouse/Director of Elementary Education (224-1300 x 117)