The Collegian
Sunday, January 24, 2021

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PAM hosts local Boys and Girls Clubs on campus

Peer Advisors and Mentors (PAM), a University of Richmond mentoring program for first-year students, hosted children from local Boys and Girls Clubs on campus Friday as part of a community service event.

PAM is a program that University of Richmond students can apply for in June before their first year, said Hope Walton, the founder and director of PAM and the director of the Academic Skills Center. Through the application process, around 50 first-year students are paired with a sophomore, junior or senior student, who serves as their mentor.

"A mentor is not only supposed to provide academic support but also emotional [support] and connect them to resources that are available on campus," said Shaleeta Hicks, a senior who has served as mentor the past three years and was a mentee her first-year.

Hicks said PAM had several events throughout the year for everyone involved in the program. Hosting children from local Boys and Girls Clubs is one of the program's annual community service events.

Walton said PAM had been hosting local Boys and Girls Clubs on campus for more than 18 years.

Members of the Central and Fairfield Court Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond participated in activities that were centered on the theme "Jump Start Your Heart," in honor of February being American Heart Month, Walton said.

Wilbert Thacker, a program leader at Boys and Girls Club of Metro Richmond, said the event fit in well with the health education that the children are already getting at their clubs.

"We're always engaging kids in speaking about their health and trying to make the right choices," Thacker said. The activities, including tug of war, Bingo, Twister and Chex Mix cooking, were led by PAM volunteers.

"There should hopefully be some sort of discussion between the kids and the mentors and the mentees about what they eat or how they could exercise," Hicks said.

William Morris, the director of the Fairfield Court Boys and Girls Club, said his members enjoyed coming to a college campus. "They are very excited when I say University of Richmond."

In some instances, this is the first time that some of these children have ever been on a college campus, Walton said.

Thacker said interacting with college students gave the children foresight into what they could be doing later in life.

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"It gives them something to look forward to," Thacker said. "Maybe they could be doing the same thing in the future."

Contact staff writer Brennan Long at brennan.long@richmond.edu

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