BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — A youth mentoring program in Brookings has reached the two decade-milestone of service in the community.
The Brookings County Youth Mentoring Program (BCYMP) provides mentoring to kids in kindergarten through high school.
“Our goal is to put developmental framework relationships within the lives of our young people. Eventually, maybe we’ll get to serve more youth than we do. Currently, we serve 132, but we are growing,” BCYMP executive director Ali Teesdale said.
Right now they have 114 mentors who are trained by the organization and must be 18 years old. They do activities like bowling, going to the movies, the nature park, or even as simple as playing a board game.
Rebekah Hoffman and 12-year-old Teadon Seaboy are one of the mentor-mentee pairs.
“If I can be that light for her then I think I’m doing my job,” Hoffman said.
“It’s just really fun to just hang out with someone else and just get a break from life and just do fun things,” Teadon said.
“For myself, it’s just been so meaningful to connect with someone who’s younger than me. I kind of look to her as a younger sister as well and being able to like foster that relationship,” Hoffman said.
Teadon’s 9-year-old brother has autism. Their mother Tessa says the program has been a lifesaver.
“He works also with his sister and her peer mentor and they go out and they do things in the community and get him more acclimated to social settings that are wonderful for him. The outpouring of donations and love on these children who just need an extra mentor. It’s just wonderful,” Tessa said.
Riley Kilber and Landon Fischbach are another duo. Kilber is 16 years old.
“Before, I was like nervous to like even ask to go something, and now it’s just like, ‘hey, what are you doing this weekend?’ You know, it’s a person that I look up to and want to spend time with,” Kilber said.
“It’s nice for Riley, too. He’s got two younger siblings, so he plays that mentor role at home, so it’s nice for him not to have the pressure of that when we go out is what he’s said to me before,” Fischbach said.
“It’s about one in three young people that don’t actually have a mentor or someone that can kind of fits into that role, even informally, that’s outside of their family relationship or family dynamic, and so to put that just one more person in that kiddo’s corner, into their lives to help them learn something new, experience new possibilities, experience new ideas is really important to us,” Teesdale said.
The program costs nothing for mentors and mentees thanks to support from local businesses and people in the community.
If you would like to become involved with the program, you can find additional information on their website.