(Copyright 1994. The Tattoo. All rights reserved.)

The Tattoo

--- Making a Permanent Impression Since 1994 ---

April 23, 1994

Students help kids on agency wait list


By Corrie Balash

The Tattoo

Not every teenager lives in an alien world of sex, drugs and
rock 'n roll.

The Nutmeg Big Brothers/Big Sisters Waiting List Program
is an example of a fun, helpful activity that teens can
participate in and even, shockingly, control.

The Nutmeg program is a volunteer group for high school
students. The program fills a critical void for children in the
community and lets high schoolers test their childcare skills.

Most of the children, ages seven to 11, have been waiting for
a Big Brother or Sister for several years. The students, not
yet 18, are too young to become official Big Brothers or
Sisters.

The Waiting List Program was recently developed under the
guidance of Cathy Perkins, a case manager for the local Big
Brothers/Big Sisters program. The teens and children are
screened to test their eligibility.

At present, the program takes place at St. Paul Catholic High
School one Friday a month. Three high school girls from
Bristol schools and eight to 10 elementary school kids take
part in the program.

"They are a real great group of teens who are dedicated to
the program. They have done a good job of making the kids
feel special," Perkins said.

It is not a chore for them to deal with the kids, who are
mostly all boys.

Many of the program's children come from single parent
families.

Perkins said she gives the parents "a lot of credit. They are
under pressure in their lives, but still make sure the everyday
needs of their children are met."

The students are the decision makers for the planned
activities.

"I only help if they're stuck and I supervise to see that things
are going smoothly," Perkins said.

With the budget of this unique program supported solely by
the United Way and some group fundraisers during the year,
there isn't a huge supply of funds available. Students
sometimes bring in supplies from home so the crafts stay
economical.

The activities range from playing Twister to baking cookies.
Holidays provide many ideas, including pumpkin decorating
and a Christmas treasure hunt.

Perkins said the kids idolize the teenagers and the teens adore
them.

"I do feel that the program is successful because I have
gotten positive feedback from parents and kids. They're really
excited," Perkins said.

For information on the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Waiting List
Program, contact Cathy Perkins at the Nutmeg Big
Brothers/Big Sisters office at 160 Farmington Ave. The
phone number is 583-9225.


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