Berkmar Students’ Increasing Velocity
An abundantly exciting time at Boy With a Ball, we, the Atlanta Team, are coming into our second month of the Velocity program for Berkmar High School. Velocity is a fun, relational mentoring program that pairs high school students with middle school students. While this program has allowed us to develop relationships with students, it also involves teachers, administrators, parents, and members of the surrounding community, creating a team of partners throughout the Berkmar area.
To get things started this year, the recruitment process consisted of six assemblies over three school weeks to almost 3,000 students. From that process, 26 students committed to the program. Since February 20th, we’ve met with these students every Tuesday afternoon for 2 hours, working on mentoring training and growing to know each other better. The students are earnest, self-aware, and kind; they constantly surprise and awe us for who they are, some as young as 14. Erika, a young Haitian girl from Miami, consistently shows us a heart of love, passion, and a desire for helping others. Amman, although shy in demeanor, surprises us weekly by showing us a bit more of his servant’s heart at each meeting. Before our last meeting, he texted us to see if he could contribute by bringing snacks or anything else we might need. Erika and Amman are simply two representatives of this amazing group of students, who have collectively expressed their interest in becoming the best mentor for their future mentee, developing their communication skills, and stepping out of their comfort zone. We have a truly incredible group of young leaders, and we are very excited for what’s to come!
The Velocity program has also afforded Boy With A Ball opportunities to get more involved at Berkmar and the surrounding community. On March 6th, Berkmar held a parent-teacher night and invited BWAB to provide interpreters for the Spanish-speaking parents. BWAB was able to facilitate communication between parents, teachers, and students to create a better understanding of the students’ situation between all three parties. In one case, a student had continuously been in trouble for texting during class; however, through translating, it was discovered that the student was not texting, but instead using his phone to translate the class material from English to Spanish. Now, the teacher is no longer punishing him but is working alongside the student to help him understand the material better.
At the same time, BWAB was interpreting, a church just down the road from Berkmar High School opened their doors to provide childcare so that parents could freely attend teacher conferences. Childcare is often a hindrance for many parents from being as involved as possible in their child’s education. This church used the resources they had to provide a simple service for the parents of Berkmar. We are so grateful to be in partnership with Berkmar’s community to radically benefit relationships between teachers, students, and parents.
The Velocity Program is a big part of Boy With a Ball’s work in Atlanta, and we are expectant for wonderful things to happen in the community. Building relationships are at the heart of all that we do at Boy With A Ball, including our relationship with you! This is only the beginning for Berkmar High School, and we hope you continue to follow and join us on this journey!