For over 10 years, Bridgewater State University has had a partnership with the Old Colony YMCA called While on the Waitlist (WOW) for students to help mentor young children as they wait to be paired up for long-term mentorship.
This program allows students working with the Martin Richard Institute for Social Justice (MRISJ) to participate in the WOW program. This happens quarterly, allowing students to plan programs like minute to win it or bingo for the children.
Amanda Trask (she/her) Executive Director of Community Partnerships at the Old Colony YMCA explained that the program itself is planned by the students “So the social justice fellows serving at MRISJ usually plan the activities…which again is awesome…they plan a range of activities that are appropriate for a lot of ages because…at the event, we typically have like 9 to 14-year-olds attending.”
Trask further expressed that by the students planning and running these events, the staff is allowed to work on their long-term mentorship programs from observing children in these activities, “which has been so helpful because a lot of times we see the youths either in an interview, which can be intimidating, or on paper, and that’s really all we get to help us with matching.”
Laura Mulvey (she/her), Community Programs Manager with MRISJ, explained that students holding the position of Social Justice Fellow plan these events that, hoping to benefit the students and the volunteers who attend the programs receive; “All of those trips are organized and facilitated by a justice fellow. So the student leader runs those trips. And…that’s something else that they’re really getting out of this experience. The Bridgewater students are having the chance to plan and design an activity and an event with their fellow students.” Mulvey stated, “students get a lot out of this program. Some of it is practicing the skills that they might be using as future educators! They’re learning to run programs or work with youth. And then some of the pieces are really getting to know the community and getting to know directly, you know, services that the Y provides, connecting with youth.”
Trask wished to express thanks for the long-standing partnership.
“We just really appreciate having BSU and having the planned activities is just really helpful for us as we do so many other…activities at the Y. It’s so nice to have that be something that we know the college students will be interested in, because it’s planned by their peers. So we really appreciate that!”