Article submitted by Aging and Independence Services, County of San Diego
Guiding a child or teen through a process of learning and confidence building can be a gratifying experience. Adults age 50 and older interested in pursuing mentorship opportunities have several options from which to choose through the County of San Diego Aging & Independence Services senior volunteer programs:
Experience Corps: Experience Corps empowers older adults to help young students improve their reading skills. Studies show that children who are not able to read at grade-level in elementary school are less likely to graduate from high school. Managed by The Children’s Initiative, this intergenerational program has been proven to help vulnerable children improve literacy skills and provide older adult volunteers with mental and physical health benefits. Opportunities are currently available for adults 50 and older to assist children from grades K-3 in the San Diego Unified School District and Lemon Grove School District in after school programs.
“One of my students was so thrilled when she was able to sound out a new word,” shared Linda, a 75-year-old Experience Corps volunteer. “Her eyes lit up and the experience was so exciting for her that I could feel it too. It was a magical moment.”
Oasis Intergenerational Tutoring: Another option for older adults to assist children in grades K-4 to achieve lifelong success is through the San Deigo Oasis Intergenerational Tutoring program. Mentors provide students what classrooms often cannot—the chance to have one-on-one reading and language tutoring session once a week from an older adult. The quality time that volunteers offer to students gives them a reason to come to school.
Words Alive: Older adults who would like to experience the satisfaction of mentoring at-risk teenagers will find the Words Alive Adolescent Book Group to be a fulfilling opportunity to engage youth from the San Diego County Juvenile Court and Community School system in book club discussion groups. Volunteers have the opportunity to be a positive role model, help students think about career goals, and encourage them to express themselves in a healthy way. This program focuses on writing and reading exercises and encourages critical thinking. For older adults who prefer to work with preschool or elementary school-aged children on reading skills, Words Alive also offers the Read-Aloud Program. Volunteers conduct many book-related activities to foster cognitive, language, and social-emotional skills.
Adults 50 and over can discover fulfilling opportunities to work with youth, or dozens of other satisfying options by contacting the County of San Diego Health and Human Services, Aging & Independence Services’ volunteer programs office at (858) 495-5039 or by emailing MaryAnne.Briggs@sdcounty.ca.gov.