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KSC Students Help Put Keene on 100 Best Communities List

KEENE, N.H., 2/01/07 - America’s Promise: The Alliance for Youth has named the city of Keene a 100 Best Communities for Young People. The competition celebrates outstanding, innovative community efforts that improve the well- being of young people, and Keene was chosen, in part, because of coordinated efforts between SAU 29 schools, Keene State College, and Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of the Monadnock Region to match children with volunteers who serve as friends and role models.

Peg Monahan, executive director of BBBS has been a key partner in supporting and developing service initiatives at Keene State. The “bigs” spend time with children to guide and support them through life’s obstacles, open up new leadership possibilities, and build trust in children. The “littles” who work with these mentors have demonstrated more positive attitudes toward school, achieved higher grades, improved their relationships with adults and other children, and developed more self-confidence. For the past three years, more than 100 student volunteers from area high schools and the College have participated.

A separate campus chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters was recently approved because more than 80 KSC students were interested in volunteering. Mary McEntee, coordinator of community service, reports that students are currently being matched with “littles,” and the group meets weekly in the Student Center.

Project Mentor, an initiative that matches university students with local middle school students, has been at UNH since 1997. Last year the program was expanded to include all campuses in the system, including Keene State. Polly Chandler, KSC service-learning coordinator and chair of the Project Mentor steering committee, has been discussing implementation of Project Mentor in Keene, Winchester, and Hinsdale since last fall. She hopes to partner with existing mentoring programs in the community, including Monadnock Family Services, Keene Middle School, Many Options, and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“If we dovetail and combine with these programs, we will create a richer program for all,” Chandler said.

The KSC component of Project Mentor began this month. Students are required to take a one-credit class on adolescent development and mentoring. The syllabus includes books adolescents would read, giving insight into the challenges of growing up in different environments. As a continuing education credit, the class is open to anyone in the community. “In class, we can really explore the idea of what it means to be a mentor,” Chandler said. “It takes mentoring to the next level.” For more information on these programs, contact Mary McEntee,, or Polly Chandler,

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