SAVE had our first Academic Mentoring Program (AMP) session of the new school year on September 19th at Creighton University: 75 kids and 3 teachers from Gateway Elementary, Norris Elementary, and Sandoz Elementary, along with 21 Creighton student volunteers, arrived at Skutt Student Center to start the new year of AMP sessions with a bang!
Our AMP sessions have a primary goal of developing positive associations with college campuses and college students so that our SAVE students can visualize themselves in a college setting, or so that they can simply broaden their understanding of the possibilities available to them.
We were so lucky to have so many amazing Creighton students show up to act as volunteer mentors, as this is an aspect of our program that is very impactful for all parties. The SAVE students arrived quickly and excitedly as they departed their charter buses, and the volunteers jumped into action by getting to know the students, asking questions, and encouraging conversations while the SAVE students settled in and enjoyed their snack from the Food Bank for the Heartland. The kids immediately gravitated towards the volunteers and were thrilled to share about their lives and interests. They asked questions about college life, schoolwork, and living outside of a guardian’s home.
After snack, we explained our expectations for each session, as we will see this particular group of kids 15 times throughout the academic year. We expect everyone to be kind, be respectful, and to have fun. The SAVE students easily agreed to these rules.
We broke into groups, made three giant circles of kids, volunteers, and staff, and did a Crazy Welcome Circle. Each person in the circle stated their name and did some kind of fun movement or motion of which everyone in the circle repeated. Needless to say, the kids and volunteers came up with some very unique poses and motions that had laughter filling the ballroom!
We then moved into Minute to Win It games with an emphasis on mentor/SAVE student partnerships to start to build trust and a positive mentorship. Our three stations included: trying to squiggle an oreo from the forehead to the mouth with no hands, trying to throw M&M’s into a partner’s cup, and a ping pong ball challenge. The SAVE students and volunteers created a light-hearted and energized environment. At one point, a SAVE student asked: “Is this what college is like?!”
Our sessions have different activities and themes each time, but the thread that runs through is simple: engaged learning, engaged mentorship, and positive experiences on college campuses.