‘It helps me bond with other people’
FLOW students learn about nutrition
The St. Mary’s public schools’ Future Leaders of The World mentor program continues to look for adults who can guide children with making better decisions and setting healthy goals.
“If we had more mentors,” then FLOW mentoring could expand to include more children, Tammy Burrs, public schools’ coor- dinator of special programs, said. The program currently operates in most of the elementary schools in the county.
Burr said each elementary school program is “a little different” and “tailored to the individual communities” at each building.
There are up to 10 chil-
dren who participate at the program offered at Lexington Park Elementary School. Those who are interested can apply to work one on one with elementary school students by filling out a school volunteer form and a mentor form, Burrs said.
Alama Shearin, FLOW program site leader, said students need adults to model healthy eating habits, as well as help children with “personal, academic and health goals.”
Lexington Park fifth-grader Melvon’dre Thomas said he likes being in the FLOW mentor program, and tells his classmates to join “because it’s fun.” He said he would be working on homework or playing outside if he didn’t have the chance to participate in the program.
His mentor, Aman Kankaria, said he was taking a year off between his undergraduate and medical school, and decided to volunteer for the program. He said he heard about it while he was a student at Great Mills High School’s STEM academy. He said he hoped to continue volunteering.
David Berry, a mentor, is in the Navy and this is his first year volunteering with the FLOW program. He said he has a degree in elementary education and wants to eventually work with the Navy’s child and youth programs.
Berry said he wanted to volunteer at St. Mary’s public schools in class and after school, similar to volunteerism he did while on deployment in Japan.
During a recent mentoring session, school nurse Laurie Lancaster told mentees about what foods provide necessary vitamins to maintain their health. She said students would hopefully make better decisions about what they snack on.
Burrs said much of the FLOW program funding is provided by a grant from the county government local management board to pay for transportation and other costs. She said students can get a snack from the school cafeteria before the program is hosted once a week in the afternoon.
She said lesson planning for the program revolves this school year on educating students to make better choices about what they eat.
Fourth-grader Harmony Thomas, Melvon’dre’s sister, said she enjoys being in the program because she likes to be creative. She said she and other students were making a peanut butter power “fruitwich,” an open-face sandwich on multigrain bread that could be topped with apples, carrots or banana slices. She said she prefers creamy peanut butter over crunchy.
Her mentor, Robin Harvey, said this is her fourth year volunteering for the program. Harvey said if people are concerned about being the right fit for the program, they should keep in mind that it’s more about “your willingness to give your time and effort for a good cause.” She said many students don’t receive the kind of one-onone support offered through the mentoring program.
Ivie Lowe, a fifth-grader at Lexington Park Elementary, said she enjoys being in the program because it offers “a lot of activities to do and it helps me bond with other people.”
Fifth-grader Cathleen “Cat” Carlisle said she would be “sitting at home playing video games or watching TV,” if she weren’t a mentee.
Classmate Devon Knott said he likes his mentor, Darrell Hall, because “he is kind and caring.” He raised his hand several times during the discussion about where to find certain vitamins in food, and made a peanut butter and banana sandwich for a snack at the program meeting.
Hall said that Knott is “a nice little chap who can be stubborn at times.”
This is his second year to volunteer and he likes “helping the kids, Hall said, adding, “They need strong male figures.”
For more information, see www. smcps. org/ strategicplanning/flow-mentoring.
FLOW students Devon Knott, left, and Cathleen “Cat” Carlisle wait as Ivie Lowe scoops peanut butter earlier this month for her snack while mentor Robin Harvey and mentee Harmony Thomas build their sandwich.