Walla Walla University Students Mentor Local Children

Friends of Children of Walla Walla

By: Hilary Nieland

Photo courtesy of Friends of Children of Walla Walla

The Friends of Children of Walla Walla is a program that began 13 years ago as a way for community members to help local children. The program matches adult volunteers to children in order for them to form a caring and consistent friendship. The volunteers take the children into the community to do an activity together for one hour per week.

Five years ago a similar program, ABC, began at Davis Elementary School in College Place. In this program, volunteers visit students once a week during their lunch and recess.

Many WWU students participate in the program. Currently there are 72 WWU students and 4 faculty and staff members regularly volunteering at Davis Elementary.

Walla Walla University 2011 graduate, Julie Nordgren, is a member of the Blue Mountain Action Council AmeriCorps team and serves in the office of the Friends program and as the volunteer coordinator and recruiter for the ABC program at Davis Elementary. “An adult who will listen to, play with, and pay special attention to a student can be an amazing gift,” says Nordgren

The Friends program can make an enormous impact on children. More than 30 percent of parents of children with mentors reported that their children’s self-confidence and ability to make decisions increased, and more than 50 percent reported improvement in academic performance. Other benefits to the program include the children being more likely to attend college, less likely to be physically aggressive, and less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol.

Nordgren has finished recruiting for  the ABC program this year, but the community-based program, Friends of Children of Walla Walla is currently accepting applications. To get involved follow the link below and download the application.

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