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Mentor program launches in Dixon

January 18, 2019

DIXON – A new mentoring program connecting students with the community kicked off Thursday after 2 years of planning.

The Dixon Family YMCA coordinated with the city and the school district to create the Dixon Inspiring Youth, or DIY, program aimed at “middle of the road” students in grades 6 to 11.

Students with high levels of involvement in school and other activities have a good support system, and there are resources for the most at-risk students, but it’s easy for the students in the middle of the spectrum to get lost, YMCA CEO Andy McFarlane said during the program launch at Reagan Middle School.

The goal is to connect those students with mentors and other students, to guide them toward the right path and help them gain a sense of community responsibility.

“It’s great to be able to finally meet with the students and provide role models that I feel our youth desperately need,” McFarlane said.

The program is starting out with eight mentors, each assigned to a group of three students from different grades, but there’s about 80 students in all that they would like to involve. For that, they need more mentors.

McFarlane hopes that the students also will be able to mentor one another and, as seniors and beyond, return to become mentors for the program themselves.

They’ll meet one to three times a month and also have different field trips to area businesses and other places in the community to help show them what Dixon has to offer, what leadership roles they don’t realize are in their reach, and areas of interest they want to explore.

“They have the potential of being great leaders,” he said.

The second year of the program will focus more on participating in community development and volunteerism.

Dixon High School freshman Emma West, 14, said she’s excited to do projects that help the community, like fundraisers and other volunteer opportunities, as well as work with younger students and teach them about different responsibilities.

Mentors go through background checks and training, and students are recommended by school staff.

City Councilman Ryan Marshall, who worked with McFarlane to create the program, said it’s a great way to try and get more students to engage in school and in the community, and he hopes it will grow over time.

To get involved

Call the Dixon Family YMCA at 815-288-9622 for more information or to be part of the new community mentoring program.

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