As the school year kicks off, so does the Weekly Mentor Program! The Fall term begins the final week of August and mentors are already preparing to bring intentional art projects to the children we serve.
The Weekly Mentor Program is one of Free Arts’ core programs. Its unique structure brings our volunteer mentors and the arts to children we serve on a consistent, long-term basis. This allows mentors and children more time to build relationships and skills. Mentors are placed with partner agencies based on their location and availability. They are teamed up in pairs or even triads to have partners to plan and collaborate with in order to maintain our standard 1:5 mentor-to-child ratio. Weekly, our mentors bring an intentional art project to the children at their facility for anywhere between 8 and 16 weeks each term.
“I wanted to express my deepest appreciation and gratitude for the outstanding community service Kayla and Emer have provided over the past month. Their dedication, selflessness, and unwavering commitment to making a positive difference in our community have not gone unnoticed.”Partner Agency Staff
In contrast to other Free Arts programs where mentors’ sole focus is to build relationships and bond with the children, the Weekly Mentor Program requires a bit more. Mentors are leading their programs without the physical presence of Free Arts staff or teaching artists. This gives the mentors the opportunity to share art forms that interest them or that they have skills in. Though a detailed curriculum of activities is provided, most mentors have enjoyed the freedom of selecting their own unique activities. These activities have included art forms such as clay sculptures, yoga, collaborative murals, bucket drumming, personalized decorations, holiday-themed art, and more!
Mentors also take on some administrative duties, such as collecting important data by taking attendance and completing the weekly Children Served Form. They are also responsible for maintaining communication with both Free Arts and the facility staff. Before, during, and after their program, mentors are fully supported by Free Arts staff to ensure they have everything they need to run a successful and meaningful program.
“I am happy I volunteered. The children have made a great impact on my life.”WMP Volunteer Mentor
Every Weekly Mentor Program looks a little bit different. Sometimes, mentors see most of the same children every week such as at foster care group homes or treatment centers. At domestic violence shelters or homeless shelters, there may be a whole new group of children every week. It is for this reason that mentors follow an outline that includes an opening activity, an intentional art activity, and a closing activity each session. This gives much-needed closure to the children so that even if this was their one and only interaction with the mentors, their time was full and complete with no loose ends.
Have we piqued your interest in becoming a volunteer mentor with the Weekly Mentor Program? Attend a volunteer orientation to learn more about this and our other programs as well as the next steps to becoming a volunteer mentor.