Park 2 Park

How can kids from the other side of town get to the Oasis and how is the Oasis going to be different from other aquatic facilities in Billings? These were the questions that were the genesis of the Park to Park Mentoring Program. Park to Park connects some of our most deserving youth with our most talented youth through a mentoring program. The mentors are chosen because of their passion and desire to help kids. They are eager to volunteer their precious time to be a part of something bigger than themselves. The mentors give the kids the love and attention they are so often deprived of, and show the kids how promising life can be when making positive choices. The mentees are ecstatic to be cared for by successful high school and college aged students. The program has been structured in a way to help the mentors have maximum success with the kids. An outing or activity is planned for each week to The Oasis or other community facility, eliminating the need for the mentors to plan their own activities or spend their own money.

In its first year, Park to Park partnered with the Friendship House serving over 70 youth. The Friendship House is a Christian based afterschool and summer enrichment program serving low-income kids on the south side of Billings. This collaboration has been extremely beneficial to both organizations. It blesses the kids of the Friendship House with a special outing each week, and the Friendship House provides a form of transportation to make the trips possible for the kids.
Though there is no monetary fee for the kids to participate in Park to Park, they do have to earn the privilege of going on the outings. Reading goals are set for the week and they are responsible for attaining that goal before the fun begins. Many of the youth involved in this program fail to maintain their reading level over the summer and struggle in school as a result. Our hope is that the incentive of the program will encourage reading at home. An adult in their life must sign off on the amount of reading done each day. For some, the adult is their parent, but for many the reading takes place at the Friendship House, under their teacher’s supervision and often times the mentors tutor the kids.
At the beginning of each trip the mentors are assigned about 4 kids to work with for the day. The kids are very appreciative of their mentors and look forward to spending time with them. When they are broken into groups they all remember whom they were with in the previous weeks and make sure they are put with that mentor again. The outings have included visits to: Yellowstone Art Museum, Peter Yegan Golf Course, bowling, Zoo Montana and The Oasis. Every other week the outing is at the Oasis, which is great because the kids especially love the Oasis! There will also be an end of the year barbeque to celebrate the relationships and progress that has been made.