Sept. 13, 2004 The U.S Attorney's office will soon resume its Peer Helpers Mentoring and Tutoring Program.
The program is part of the office's community-outreach effort and seeks to encourage V.I. high school students from Grades 10 to 12 to serve as mentors and tutors for students in the public elementary schools.
Involving peer helpers, who are older and more mature youth, in the process of "lending a helping hand" to children of elementary school creates a "win-win" situation for all involved the youth, law enforcement and the community, acting U.S. Attorney Anthony Jenkins said in a release issued Monday.
"It also provides our young people with a positive alternative to channel their energies and make a difference in the lives of other young people," Jenkins said.
According to Jenkins, the Peer Helpers initiative grew out of the U.S. Attorney Juvenile Violence Committee, which was formed in January of 1999 under former U.S. Attorney James A. Hurd Jr., in response to a rash of violent incidents, including killings at the territory's schools.
"Recent violent events at a number of our schools suggests that a modified approach and expansion of this initiative is warranted since research has shown that most antisocial and criminal activities have occurred between the hours of 3 and 6 p.m. when most students are unsupervised from the time school ends to when their parents or guardians get home," Jenkins said.
More than 400 high school students have participated as peer helpers in the program and received community service credits towards graduation since its inception, the release said. Also, more than 800 public elementary school students have benefitted from the initiative. Organizers are calling on "faith-based" and other not-for-profit organizations and community groups that have after-school mentoring programs to assist them in an effort to expand the program.
Organizations wishing to participate in the program should contact Nathalie Kean in the St. Croix office at 772-3920 by Sept. 23 to obtain additional information to determine the feasibility of a collaborative relationship.
Interested high school students in both districts from Grades 10 to 12, who have good academic standing, should also call Kean at 773-3920 by Sept. 23 to sign up for the training and orientation program.
Training for St. Croix student mentors will start at 4 p.m. Sept. 28 at the St. Croix Curriculum Center in Kingshill. Training for the students in the St. Thomas-St. John district will start at 4 p.m. Sept. 29 in the first floor conference room of the District Court in St. Thomas.
All prospective students must be in school uniform, have a signed permission slip from their parents or guardians and must present a copy of their academic transcript with an overall grade point of C+ or higher.
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