FULTON, NY Ã¢â‚¬â€œ In the past 13 years the available mentoring programs in the Fulton School District have flourished thanks to the collaborative efforts of OCO, Catholic Charities of Oswego County and the Fulton Community Task Force.
Mentoring first began in the Fulton School District in 1996 when Catholic Charities of Oswego County established the Amigo Mentoring Project, now known as the CYO Mentoring Program.
This school based program matched high school aged mentors with younger youth in the Fairgrieve Elementary School offering them peer support and a positive role model.
Students in the CYO Mentoring Program meet weekly throughout the school year and spend time together in a variety of ways including tutoring, games and activities.
Mentors provide friendship, guidance, and support through one on one time and group activities.
In 1999, The Fulton Community Task Force was established, when community members came together to respond to bomb scares in the Fulton schools.
At its inception the main thrust of the task force was to promote safety, responsibility, and respect for others.
As the task force grew, it broadened its scope and began looking for ways to help build a stronger community.
As a result the FCTF formed a mentoring task force with a goal of expanding mentoring service in the city of Fulton.
In June of 2004, when OCO identified a funding opportunity through the Department of Education to develop mentoring programs, a community collaboration was formed that consisted of a partnership between OCO, Catholic Charities of Oswego County, the Fulton School District and The Fulton Community Task Force.
With the identified need and community support in place the collaboration was able to secure the necessary funding to expand the mentoring services to all four FultonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s elementary schools as well as the Fulton Junior High School.
While the Catholic CharitiesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ CYO Mentoring Program matches elementary students with high school aged mentors, the Fulton Mentoring Program administered through OCO matches youth in grades 3-8 with volunteer adult mentors.
Youth in the Fulton School Mentoring Program receive one on one individualized support, which includes:Ã‚Â promotion of pro-social behavior, building self-esteem, and positive peer group interaction.
All mentoring meetings last one hour per week following the school calendar and take place at the Fulton elementary schools between the hours of 3:30 and 5:30 p.m.
Mentors are supported through on-going training that begins before they are matched with a youth.
The mentors and youth are paired by their similar interests and personalities.
For the youth, a mentor acts as a role model, tutor, listener and friend.
Both youth and mentors enjoy the benefits of mentoring.
Mentees have reported that thanks to their experiences with the mentoring program they have become more confident in their abilities and are more involved in school activities.
For the mentors the experience has proved to be very personally rewarding with many noting that just one hour a week can make a positive impact on the lives of the youth that they mentor.
In addition research has shown that youth with a mentor make improvements in academic achievement, social skills, self-esteem, and behavior.
These results have been seen in those students involved with the Fulton School Mentoring Program and the CYO Mentoring Program.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“These programs are great,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Carol Ireland, manager of the Fulton School Mentoring Program. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Our program makes a huge difference in the life of the young people involved. Mentors only meet with their youth for an hour per week. To be able to observe the significant gains the youth make, speaks volumes for the success of this program.Ã¢â‚¬Â
OCOÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Youth Services Enhancement Services coordinator Kristin LaBarge agreed.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Having mentoring programs in the Fulton School District is so beneficial to our youth. We have seen increased attendance rates and academic improvements as well as positive youth-adult interactions. The mentors also find this program rewarding and have a genuine interested in being involved in their community and helping youth in need of positive adult support. Through our partners, we have been able to form positive relationships in the Fulton community and minimize risky behaviors,Ã¢â‚¬Â said LaBarge.
The Fulton School District, as well as city officials, have recognized OCOÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Fulton School Mentoring Program and Catholic Charities of Oswego CountyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s CYO Mentoring Project for their efforts and their ongoing plan to expand mentoring services to the youth of our community.
The Fulton School Mentoring Program is a collaborative effort between OCO, the Fulton Community Task Force, Catholic Charities of Oswego County, and the Fulton City School District.
If you would like to be a mentor or refer a student, contact Ireland at 402-2093.
Just one hour a week makes a difference!
The Fulton School Mentoring Program is funded by the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services.
OCO is a private, non-profit agency that has been supporting communities throughout Oswego County since 1966 and touches the lives of more than 20,000 people annually.
OCO is a United Way of Greater Oswego County member agency.
For more information on OCO and its many programs, visit www.oco.org