BLYTHEVILLE, Ark. (KAIT) -A Region 8 city known for its crime is working to make some changes, and it’s starting within the school system.
Blytheville is known to have its ups and downs just like any other city, but the ‘Lunch Buddies’ program at Blytheville Elementary School is helping plant needed-conversations and love between community members and students.
The purpose of the program is to help students enhance their self-esteem, attendance, and motivate them to improve their behavior and academic performance.
“Just having someone extra to talk through those things that’s not a teacher or parent or guardian can help, or maybe there’s just a student that needs a little extra love and attention," says Blytheville Elementary’s guidance counselor, Lena Pierce.
About 20 mentors consistently come to the school every Thursday or Friday to eat with their individual lunch buddy during the students’ lunchtime. As of now, there are 25 to 30 students involved, according to Pierce.
From local government officials to other parents and students, the mentors want to give that extra love, the city needs.
“By having others come in, the students get to see the positives of our community," said Pierce. "They get to see the people that work hard to make Blytheville what it is.”
Two of the mentors, are just teenagers themselves.
Blytheville High School basketball players and graduating seniors Marcus Logan and Curtis Smith, sacrifice their lunchtime once a week to mentor two males students.
“When we walk through the school, they shake our hands and it’s good to see a smile on their face. We just want to make Blytheville better,” said Logan.
Sometimes the kids run into roadblocks improving their behavior AND even if they have to bribe the students with rewards.
“If his (the mentee’s) grades and behavior are good, the next time I come to the school, I’m going to introduce him to my team and coach and take him to a game," said Smith.
Pierce said the program needs more male mentors, but they are open to anyone wanting to help.
If you’re interested in signing up, contact Lena Pierce at (870) 763-5924 or LPierce@blythevilleschools.net.