Big Sibs mentors visit charter school in Camden
Twenty-nine members of the Class of 2016 traveled to Camden, N.J. to visit the students of City Invincible Charter School for the first time as part of Big Sibs, a University-based community mentoring program, on Saturday.
Organized by the Class of 2016 Council in collaboration with the Pace Center, Big Sibs was founded this spring to pair Princeton freshman mentors with City Invincible students from the third through fifth grades. Big siblings are required to send one email per week to their little siblings and are encouraged to meet in person at special events hosted by the program.
The program held its first information session in February and is exclusively funded by the Class of 2016 council, according to Class of 2016 council member Justin Ziegler ’16.
About 150 Princeton students came to Big Sibs’ mandatory training sessions in late March, the program’s executive board paired 94 of them with 94 City Invincible students, co-chair of the Big Sibs executive board Mallory Banks ’16 said. Two hundred and thirty-five Princeton students initially expressed interest in participating in the program.
The remaining Princeton students will participate in mentoring kindergartners, first-graders and second-graders, she said.
Twenty-four “Big Sibs,” five executive board members and Community House Director Marjorie Young made the first of several planned excursions to City Invincible on Saturday.
Heather O’Donovan ’16 said this trip was her first opportunity to meet her “little sib,” a third-grader.
“At first, she was shy, but soon she opened up, and we discovered we share a passion for art and music,” O’Donovan said.
She added that she decided to get involved with Big Sibs because her extracurricular activities on campus are usually restricted to music and theater, and she wanted to participate in a new type of activity to expand her horizons.
Marcus Stroud ’16, another executive board member, said that he hopes Big Sibs will have developed and strengthened their relationships with their little siblings by the end of this school year. In the long term, he hopes the board will choose to involve the classes of 2017, 2018 and 2019, he said.
“It would be great if different classes could all work together collectively to inspire children and create friendships and have a great impact on the life of the little sibs,” Stroud said. “We don’t want this to fade away. It would be great if it could become stronger and stronger.”
Stroud said his experience with a similar program during his childhood, Big Brothers of America, provided him with a role model as he grew up and led him to join Big Sibs at the University.
While Big Sibs is currently funded by the Class of 2016 Council, Ziegler and Banks said they hope to expand funding sources and have considered fundraising projects and alumni donations.
The other members of the board include Mason Williams ’16, Stevie Peacock ’16, Sofia Gomez ’16, Kristen McNierney ’16, Eduardo Lima ’16, Leora Haber ’16, Lea Trusty ’16 and Ava Chen ’16.
McNierney is a staff writer, and Trusty is a columnist for The Daily Princetonian.
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