The Buddy System North County

Placing youth on a path to success

Photo of Brenna Lundhagen
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Date Started

March 20th, 2018

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."

1 in 5 children with learning and attention issues are not formally identified with a disability. When these children receive the right interventions and supports, many can succeed in general education. Learning that students are affected academically even without a disability diagnosis inspired us to help children around our community. After interviewing local teachers and elementary students, we took all of the data we collected and decided that we would start a mentorship/tutoring nonprofit where we could play with the kids and have fun, but also help them learn. At first it was a little rocky because we were getting to know our buddies and they were not comfortable with us yet, but after a few visits, things went smoothly. The kids ended up loving our time together and would continually ask for us.

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Before they even reach 13 years old, children are experimenting with alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana and sex. We wanted to keep kids out of trouble after school, be appropriate role models, and work with them one on one academically. We know that with so many kids in a class, a teacher can't give every student the help they may need and the behaviors that children in middle school and younger engage in can persist into adulthood.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Our solution was to go to elementary school classes and meet the children we would be mentoring. After we got to know them, we discovered what they needed and began to help them during the after school program. We worked on their class work and homework. We also made sure to have fun and we bonded through games and other creative activities. Our program is customized based on what each child needs. Some children benefitted more from appropriate social interactions while others needed tutoring and academic coaching.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

On one of our first experiences with the elementary schoolers we started with icebreakers and games as we do with every new group of children. The teachers kept walking over to us saying how much the children were enjoying us being there and asking when we could come back. To help build rapport with the children, we kept the mentor/student groups the same for the entire project. On a normal day (after icebreakers), we check in with the children first to see how they are doing and to ask them if they are behind on any class work or need help with anything. Next we either play games or make crafts with the children or if they needed help with work, we will do that first. Our program is completely based on what each child needs so it is flexible for each child and each day.

5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Our organization is different than others because we get to know each child individually. We get to connect with the children and learn their stories, enabling us to mold our program to fit their needs. Our idea was to help our youth reach their goals and fulfill their highest potential.

6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

We have worked with over 35 children. We have helped all of them with critiquing, proofreading, sounding out hard words, long division, social skills, fractions, multiplication, and reading aloud.

7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

We want to start branching out to other schools. We want to expand as much as possible to help as many children as we can.

8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?

We need more team members and volunteers as well as funding and more advertisement.

10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.

We have already partnered with High Tech Elementary North County and we have gotten quite a few volunteers from High Tech High North County. We sent out surveys and forms to sign up to become a volunteer.

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Other


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Photo of Ella Hughes

I really think that this is a great idea. I know that this program would be very helpful to many to kids in many schools.

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