In September 2014, KHEL started a new program to foster good relationships between the younger and older students at LDA. Once a week, our 5-8th grade students meet with a 1-4th grade student to work on a project together, share a snack, help with homework or just chat about their lives and their families. Recently the Buddies got together to make thank you cards for KHEL’s friends and donors. Shalini, a long time KHEL volunteer, designed this program by drawing on her experience as a mentor to under served middle school students in New Orleans when she was a college student at Tulane University. The program has been running for several months and the kids look forward to the days when they get to hang out with their Buddies.
LDA is more than just a school. It is a gathering space that fosters good relationships among diverse groups in a small and densely populated community. Programs like the Buddy Project help the kids to develop empathy for each other from a young age and teach them much needed mentoring skills for adulthood. They learn that, no matter how poor they are, they have something of value to share with someone else.