People helped greater numbers of people, we learned that severe
illness often affects the whole family. Children, in particular,
can be harmed if their parents become overwhelmed with the realities
of a debilitating and life-threatening disease.
To help kids cope, we've added the Adolescent Peer
Mentoring Program: Kids Helping Kids. This program is designed to
help kids as young as 6 and as old as 20 to understand how best
to cope with their parents' illnesses. The kids also learn how to
protect themselves and other kids from HIV infection, to make good
eating and exercise not just part of their life, but something they
teach other kids about, and how to stay free of dangerous behaviors
i.e. drugs and risky sexual activity.
Our work follows our belief that children helping
each other is the best form of intervention to interrupt the cycle
of poverty, drugs, early sexual activity, pregnancies, and school
failure. We train older teenagers to become leader in their community
and serve as mentor for younger children whose parents are ill.
Many people have recognized our work. In 1999, the Health People
Mentoring Program was named one of 16 Model Mentoring Programs by
the National Mentoring Partnership. The Program Coordinator who
helped start the program received a Mayor's Award as the City's
Outstanding Volunteer of the Year. Under funding from the
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development through
the National Development and Research Institute our theory that
Kids helping Kids effects positive change for individuals and, in
the community at large is being well evaluated.
In its ten years, the Kids-Helping-Kids Jr. Peer Mentoring
Program has proven itself to be one of the most outstanding youth
programs in the United States. It is especially designed to help
children and teens whose parents have chronic diseases and HIV/AIDS.
In the program, older teens are trained to become leaders and mentors
for younger kids from families affected by serious illness.
Not only is this program evidently unique in the United
States—in having older teens be the mentors while helping
younger kids in a particularly difficult situation—but evaluation
by N.D.R.I., under funding from the National Institute of Child
Health and Human Development, shows its positive impact on youth
development; among other outcomes, kids in the mentoring program
are significantly less likely to abuse drugs than similar kids who
aren’t in the program. More than that, these teens have shown
themselves to be real leaders and wonderful, dedicated mentors for
In the summer teens take a six-week training to become
jr. educators and mentors. During the rest of the year, they go
pick up their assigned mentee every Saturday morning and bring them
to the program. The teens run a support group for the younger kids,
giving them a safe place to discuss their worries and problems.
Then, there’s time for games and play or the mentors take
their mentees on cultural and recreational outings.
Ages for mentees are 6 to 13 and for mentors age 14
to 21. If you wish more information, or to enroll a child or teen,
Michael Goodhope at 718-585-8585 ext. 228.