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A mentorship program for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome and related disorders is aimed to begin fall 2018.
The Future Child Advocates of Troy (FCAT) club is working with Lakisha Louissaint, a Troy mom with a 17-year-old son with autism, to create and implement the mentorship program.
“This mom (Lakisha Louissaint) was upset that there were not resources in Troy for autistic children,” said Barbara Patterson, director of student involvement. “She (Louissaint) wanted to know if there was someone on campus who could mentor her son.”
Louissaint said she wants children with disabilities to feel valued in this society.
“They (children with disabilities) need to feel appreciated, and they’re rejected on so many levels by peers and people and sometimes schools and staff members and teachers,” Louissaint said. “They need someone to look up to — someone that believes in them.”
Kourtney Frye, a sophomore history major from Monroeville and the president of FCAT, said the mentorship program will pair a child without a disability and a child with a disability together to help children be more aware of how to treat one another.
“Oftentimes, children with these exceptionalities are separated from children without it, so we want to give them (all children) the opportunity to make friends out of it as well as being mentored,” Frye said.
Louissaint said that she wants children with exceptionalities to be able to grow outside of the home and learn from a mentor.
“When you’re around parents all the time, you kind of get annoyed with the parents,” Louissaint said. “Hearing it from someone who you look up to as a mentor (will help the children with disabilities).”
Frye said that FCAT will be finding parents around Troy’s community who want their children to be a part of the mentorship program, and FCAT will be looking for students who would like to be mentors.
FCAT is planning on hosting “Friendships Fun Days” in the spring semester for parents who would like to find a mentor for their children.
“We’ll give the parents the opportunity to bring their children to Troy University, and Future Child Advocates and people who are interested in the program will be able to come together and watch movies with the children, play games with them and help with homework to try to start some interaction with the children before getting the actual mentorship program started,” Frye said.
The mentorship program will include background checks for mentors interested in the program, and FCAT will be raising money for activities the mentors will be doing with their mentees.
Through the mentorship program, Louissaint said she hopes to see students reaching out and wanting to help with this and make the children with exceptionalities feel appreciated.
“That’s what I look to see, to see growth and to see the children feeling accepted and feeling like they’re a part of society instead of being alienated,” Louissaint said.
Students who are interested in helping with this mentorship program can visit the FCAT meetings on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Mondays of each month in Patterson 301.