Nelson County Times, December 28, 2016 — For years, the Jefferson Area Board on Aging has aimed to serve the community in multiple ways, including through the intergenerational Friends in School Helping program. Only recently, however, has the FISH program taken off in Nelson County.
Starting toward the end of the past school year, the program began pairing volunteers, most of them retired, with teachers at Tye River and Rockfish River elementary schools. This school year, organizers, teachers, principals and students all have begun to reap the benefits of the program, according to JABA Volunteer Service Coordinator Carleigh Showalter.
The FISH program has been in existence for about 13 years with about 125 volunteers serving more than 700 students in schools in the city of Charlottesville and Albemarle, Greene, Louisa, Fluvanna and Nelson counties, according to JABA’s website.
“A child who receives attention and empathy from a caring adult enjoys higher self-esteem, develops better problem-solving abilities, and feels empowered to achieve. At the same time, volunteers see the significant contribution they make to a child's overall confidence and stay active through weekly activities,” the website states. “FISH fosters friendships across generations, allowing both students and volunteers to enjoy the stimulating experience of interacting with someone from a different age group.”
While FISH launched in Nelson during the second semester of the 2015-16 school year, the program has begun to take hold this school year, as the teachers have become more familiar with its positives of having the extra help of a FISH volunteer.
About 10 volunteers serve Nelson’s two elementary schools, according to Showalter.
“[FISH volunteers are] impacting children in terms of their academic skills, but also you’re building them up emotionally and socially,” said Sue Fulton, who acts as liaison between the FISH volunteers and guidance counselor and teachers at Tye River. “Young children love to have the attention of someone coming in because they know that person is coming for them. [They think], ‘Gosh, someone is coming here for me?” READ MORE…