“Lanee started out really shy and quiet but as the year went on, she started talking to more kids.” When Emma met her mentee Laney, the 8 year old didn’t interact much with the other kids at Club M mentoring in Burlington. High school freshman Emma determined to help Lanee get out of her comfort zone and make friends. She got to know the shy girl during Club M doing school work or playing games outside. “We both like outdoors activities,” Emma tells me, listing hopscotch, chalk, foursquare, jump rope, and bubbles as some of their favorites.
Hoping to see Emma open up to other children in the mentoring program, Emma encouraged her to try new things. By the end of the year, Lanee was inviting other kids whose mentors hadn’t shown up or who didn’t have a mentor to join her and Emma in games and activities. “She’s very welcoming and inclusive and just really nice to the kids,” Emma tells me. “Even if they don’t play well or aren’t very nice, she’s nice to them.”
Near the end of the year, Club M Burlington director Cassie Gerst organized a trip for mentors and mentees to visit nearby schools and talk to children about mentoring. Cassie hoped to introduce the concept of mentoring to new schools, and get enough interest to start a Club M there. Lanee and Emma went on the trip with others from the program. Emma tells me how the once-shy Lanee talked with new children and encouraged them to get involved in mentoring. In terms of getting out of her comfort zone, Emma says, “it benefitted her a lot.” She adds that the two have kept in touch over the summer and still hang out, as Lanee is the younger sister of one of Emma’s friends.
Emma initially got involved in Club M after several of friends signed up, and especially because she enjoys working with children. After a year of getting to know Lanee and mentoring with Club M, Emma has begun to realize that she has passion for working with young children, especially in teaching them how to do things and encouraging them to try something new. “This is the first year the program was at our school,” Emma tells me. “Ms. Gerst was so positive and even though we didn’t have a lot of mentors, she always went around and talked to people to tell them what Club M is and get them interested.” When there weren’t enough mentors. Cassie hangs out with kids and gets to know them, encouraging them to keep coming until she can find a mentor for them. The director worked hard to get Club M to Burlington High School, and with the help of Lanee, Emma, and the other mentors and mentees, they are trying to bring Club M to other schools in their area. Both girls are excited to do Club M again in the Fall of 2016 and look forward to at least another year of fun, making friends, and growing.