The partnership between Twin Lakes Elementary School and Sierra Health Services has been ongoing for the past 13 years. They wee matched through the Clark County School District Partnership Focus Schools Project. Mentors spend one hour each week with the child they are partnered with. This relationship helps build the children’s trust and acceptance while they are also helping the children build on other skills.
During the time this partnership has been established, Sierra Health Services has assisted Twin Lakes with meeting needs that would have been impossible to do on their own. One of the most important contributions has been human resources to provide quality one-on-one time for many of the students. Because a majority of the students at the school have few responsible adults to depend on, interact with, or serve as positive role models, the volunteers from Sierra Health Services has met a great need.
Recent studies show that mentoring results in positive behavior changes for the children. These changes include but are not limited to improved interpersonal skills and relationships, increased self-control and increased academic achievement. Aggressive behavior and truancy have also been reduced.
As the only elementary school with an official mentoring program, Twin Lakes has had an average of ten volunteers annually to volunteer their time and love to the children. This past year, through the encouragement of the Community Relations Office, Twin Lakes was pleased to have an excess of 20 volunteers to work with the most at risk children.
The one-hour per week makes a great difference in the children’s lives. They see that the adult really cares because they commit their time to their mentees, and they always show up. Relationships are built, and the children also learn. They learn academically, receiving individual assistance with homework or other school projects. They also learn socially by relating with adults in a positive and respectful way. For many, the social skills are invaluable, but the confidence inspired is priceless.
The difference for many of these students is apparent. The truancy rate has decreased and there are less frequent referrals to the office for disciplinary reasons. The mentors’ dedication is evident in the children’s progress. They are also careful to call if an emergency comes up and there are going to have to miss their scheduled time so they can reschedule and let their buddy know what is going on.
Because of the success of the program, more than half of the mentors return each year. In addition, dozens of students have requested to be included in the program to work with the volunteers from Sierra Health System.