By NEIL ZAWICKI
The mentoring program at the Milton Community Youth Coalition wants to hold regular events through the Milton Artists Guild. The program first collaborated with MAG in the spring of 2018, and again just last spring., when kids and their mentors got to learn from local artists and create art on their own. Now, MCYC and MAG want to make the program a regular thing.
“It was just wonderful to have the kids in that space,” said mentoring program coordinator Amy Spector. “It’s just such a great opportunity for the kids and the mentors.”
The coalition is planning mentoring events for September and November, and has money in the budget set aside for the events. MENTOR Vermont is the primary funder for the program. The coalition provides some funding through grants, as does Key Bank and the town. The MAG artists are paid to teach the classes.
Called Milton Mentors, the program started in 2011 and focuses on the youth empowerment element of the Coalition’s wider mission. Through the program, as Spector explains it, mentoring adults are matched with kids who benefit from having an additional adult presence in their lives.
“The main reason for the mentoring program is to provide kids with an opportunity to do anything they might not have access to,” she said.
Spector said for the last art event at MAG, seven mentor pairs came out. They got to learn from MAG artist and Milton resident Tina Lesperance, who lead the kids and their mentors in a fluid acrylic project, so the kids got to create art by pouring acrylic paint on canvases. At the same time, they enjoyed pizza and got to learn from Spector how to use the paint and materials.
“They brought their pizza and had a great night,” she said. “The kids just have fun and learn so much. It’s great for them just to have the freedom to do new things.”
For her part, Lesperance, said she enjoys working with the kids. She raised five kids on her own and now has eight grandkids, so working with the group was not a stretch for her. Lesperance said she would love to teach a mentoring class again.
The mentoring program is open to all kids in grades 3 through 8. To qualify, they must
demonstrate a desire to participate in the program and willingness to adhere to all Milton Mentors policies and procedures, have ongoing parental/guardian support and permission for participation in the program, agree to a one-year commitment to Milton Mentors and commit to spend four hours per month or one per week with a mentor, be willing to communicate with the assigned mentor and Mentoring Program coordinator regularly, and complete a program interview
The mentor program is actively seeking volunteers. Anyone interested can learn more at http://miltonyouth.org/milton-mentors/