Connecting pupils with the Horsham community

Horsham Primary School 298 campus has enhanced its connections with the community through a unique mentoring program.

The MATES Mentoring Program pairs a community member with a pupil and is designed to promote positive role models for young people.

Sixteen 298 pupils were involved in the program during term three.

Program co-ordinator Kerrie Nolan said this was the first year the school had been involved with the program.

She said MATES offered many benefits.

"The purpose of the program is for the students to spend time with a significant adult outside of their family," she said.

"For some students we have seen an increase in attendance and their attitude towards school has also improved.

"The aim is to build an increased connection with the school and build relationships between the school and the community."

Ms Nolan said the students had also learned new hobbies such as scrapbooking and crafts with their mentors.

Mentor Ashlee Firman of Horsham became involved with the program after moving to Horsham six months ago.

Miss Firman is paired with grade one pupil Cayden Ellis.

She said it had been a rewarding experience.

"I wanted to do something for the community. I was walking through the plaza and saw the signs for the mentor program and grabbed an information pack," she said.

"I attended a few training days and was then paired with Cayden."

Miss Firman visits the school every second week. She said the program was a perfect fit for her.

"It is nice for the students to have someone to talk to and to look up to,'" she said.

"Cayden is always very excited to see me. I would definitely recommend it to others it is such a good program."

Cayden, seven, said he too had enjoyed the program.

He said he liked his mentor and would like to continue to be a mentee next year.

Wimmera Southern Mallee LLEN partnership broker Sallie Millington who co-ordinates the MATES Mentoring programs across the region said Horsham Primary School 298 was the first primary school to implement the program.

"The mentors and mentees love it and it is such a positive thing to do," she said.

"It is a flexible program that can be adapted to different age groups.

"To have 148 kids in the Wimmera matched with positive role models is fantastic."

Miss Millington said Horsham Primary School's Rasmussen campus would introduce the program next term.

She said schools in Warracknabeal, Nhill and Kaniva would also adopt the program in term four.

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