Mentorship program aims to connect Fort Wayne youth with First Responders

First responders connecting with Fort Wayne kids
First responders connecting with Fort Wayne kids(WPTA)
Published: Jul. 13, 2022 at 4:46 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - Kids at YMCA’s Camp Kekionga got to get up close and personal with first responders on Wednesday.

It’s all part of the new Rise Youth Mentorship Program, which is a 9-month mentorship program with Fort Wayne fire, police, the YMCA and Children’s Health Collaborative.

Antoinette Francher-Donald with Children’s Health Collabortive says the program has been in the works since October 2021

She explained, “There is data that shows that kids tend to go on to college, they’re more likely to go on to college. They’re more likely to be productive in life and they’re more likely to find what they want to do when there is a mentor in their life.”

The kids go the chance to talk to fire fighters, police officers, and ems and learn about the jobs, along with other fun activities like watching robot demonstrations and petting a k-9 officer.

Sergeant Jermey Webb with Fort Wayne Police Department says that’s exactly the program’s goal.

“This gives them a chance to see them in a non-stressful, see the humanity behind the badge, the fire, and all these other organizations that are a part of it and really get to see them on a less stressful, less intense level so they can ask questions,” Webb said. “They can touch these vehicles, they can get inside these vehicles, so they’re not scared of them, they realize these vehicles are here for their safety.”

The program will continue into the school year. Twice a month, first-responders will go into childcare programs at local YMCAs, to help them with school work and just spend time with the kids.

For Donald, it puts a smile on her face knowing kids in her community will have someone by their side to help them.

“We know that our kids have so much potential and to see their faces out here interacting with adults they could one day be a firefighter, or they could be a police officer, or they could be a teacher. So, we’re really really excited about this and we’re looking forward to next year,” Donald said.

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