West Warwick program seeks to recruit mentors for students

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West Warwick Public Schools Mentor Program is looking for adults who love children, have life experiences to share and look to give back to the community for as little as one hour per week by becoming a mentor to a child in the district.

Recently, RI KIDS COUNT considered West Warwick a “Core City,” where 35 percent of children come from single-parent homes and 22.4 percent of children are living in families with income below the federal poverty threshold.

Mentoring is a proven tool that makes a difference in the life of a child and helps to keep them off drugs, out of gangs and in school. Children with mentors are 46 percent less likely to begin using drugs, 27 percent less likely to begin using alcohol and 53 percent less likely to skip school, according to the Rhode Island Mentoring Partnership.

In existence for more than 12 years, the WWPSMP is a school based mentoring program, where volunteer adult mentors meet with students from kindergarten through 12th grade on school grounds during school hours. Half hour to hour-long sessions are held weekly, with a commitment of one school year asked from each volunteer. 

Dana Papitto, Student Mentor Coordinator for West Warwick’s public schools, is dedicated to expanding and enhancing the mentoring program. The program consists of 33 mentoring pairs, however, only two of the adult mentors are male. The program also currently has 30 boys on their mentor waitlist.

Papitto points out that mentors are not tutors or disciplinarians; they are expected to have fun with the student and be a role model.

“Through discussion of the mentor’s career, interests and hobbies, students will gain exposure to things that they might not experience otherwise,” wrote Pappito in an email.

Requests for mentors for students may come from teachers, parents and administrators capable of identifying children who may lack confidence or self-esteem or have other indicators that could interfere with school success.

Typically, mentors use various locations onsite to meet with their mentee, such as the school library or cafeteria. There are games for mentors at all the schools, or the mentor can choose their own activity. Over time, a relationship is built between the pair, where other likes and interests may be explored.

With an especially strong need for more male mentors, the program is looking for more dedicated adults to become role models for boys and girls.

An informational meeting to learn more about the program will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 19 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the West Warwick High School Library, 1 Webster Knight Drive, West Warwick. Male mentors are greatly needed. For more information, contact Dana Papitto by calling 822-8435 or emailing dpapitto@ww-ps.com.

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