Studies by the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization have shown that when a child has a mentor who cares about them, the child's self esteem and progress in school improves.
The one-on-one mentor program that BBBS began at Julia Randall Elementary School last year will continue for 2006-2007.
This year, instead of being an after school program, it will become a lunch buddy program.
"I'm a lunch buddy big and have been with my little for five and a half years now," said vice president of programs for BBBS in central Arizona, Karin Szymanski. "It's a lot of fun."
Lunch buddies helps the schools by having more adults on campus to make sure that children who need extra attention and encouragement get needed adult support, Szymanski said.
Adult buddies must abide by JRE campus rules, including signing in and out at the office as visitors.
"The big can bring a lunch or eat a cafeteria lunch with their little," Szymanski said. "They can play games inside or out on the playground. Just spend quality time together."
BBBS hopes the program will appeal to working adults.
"It gives them a break to get rejuvenated before going back to their jobs," Szymanski said.
Bigs may help littles with homework, but Szymanski cautioned, "We are a mentoring, not a tutoring program."
Adult buddies are fingerprinted, interview and have their backgrounds checked before they are matched with a little.
When the big meets their little on campus for the first time the little's parents are invited.
Parents who wish to sign their child up for the program and adults, working or retired, who wish to volunteer as buddies may contact BBBS at (928) 468-8375.
-- To reach Carol La Valley call 474-5251 ext. 122 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.