It's not quite a one-room schoolhouse, but it is the same school that serves grades one through 12, which can sometimes make it tough for younger kids to fit in or make them easy targets for bullying. Extension brought the Youth and Families with Promise program to the rural county as a way of helping at-risk youth. While other areas of Utah using the program use college students or adults to be mentors, in this rural area, high school seniors have had to take on this responsibility.
Youth ages 10-14 are referred to Extension's program from schools, juvenile courts, community and religious organizations, or from parents. Extension recruits and trains mentors to pair with youth. Mentors provide motivation and tutoring in reading and academic skills and participate with youth in 4-H and other structured recreation and community service activities. Grandmentors (couples who act as grandparents to the youth) are also recruited. Youth and mentors participate in monthly group activities and are joined by grandmentors and parents every other month for Family Night Out activities.
"It has worked out great," says YFP site coordinator Colleen Barthlome. "In addition to regular mentoring visits, the high school seniors are with the younger kids throughout the day. They see each other in the hallways and at lunch. So, the younger kids feel safer and less likely to get picked on.
"About one-third of the senior graduating class is involved in the program and we've never had a mentor quit the program," Barthlome says. "After some early reluctance, the school superintendent has given his full support to the program."