Southwest Kansas needs big brother and big sister volunteers this summer, and Garden City Community College is pitching in to help. We're hoping you can, too.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Finney and Kearny County recently announced plans to lead a city-wide effort to extend its school-year mentoring efforts into the summer months, since the summer school program usually conducted by USD 457 won't be taking place, due to budget cuts.

The effort, which opened June 1, is one of the biggest challenges the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization has ever undertaken, and it's drawing on a partnership involving GCCC, the City of Garden City, the Finney County Sheriff's Office, Garden City Fire Department, the Center for Children and Families and St. Catherine Hospital.

The college whose students make up a large share of the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentors that work each year with boys and girls throughout the area is offering classroom facilities and other support. In addition, students and others from GCCC are volunteering.

However, more help is needed. During the school-year mentoring program, GCCC students from various social science classes, the campus-based Black Student Union and other organizations work closely with designated boys and girls on a one-on-one basis through Big Brothers Big Sisters sponsorship. However, we simply don't have enough students to meet the summer needs too.

Mentoring children

This summer, Big Brothers Big Sisters has been seeking 100 additional community volunteers, because the organization is committed to meeting the summer learning needs of approximately 400 children. Volunteers are already working with groups of up to five children each, helping them in key subject areas, including:

Writing

Basic mathematics

Basic reading.

Sessions have been scheduled in locations throughout Garden City, including points on the college campus. The program is running seven weeks, beginning the first week of June, with a one-week break around Independence Day.

Volunteer mentors don't have to be teachers, but they do need to have an interest in helping with the learning process for young people from kindergarten through 10th grade. The goal is to help students, who would otherwise be in summer school, so they won't fall behind their classmates. Each volunteer, of course, will be screened by the BBBS organization.

Get involved

Anyone who wants to volunteer, or simply find our more, should contact the BBBS executive director, Tammy Davis, at 275-2424. Information is also available online at www.bbbs@gcnet.com, or at the organization's headquarters, 201 N. Main St.

Because the mentoring program has already started, it's important to make contact as soon as possible.

The annual summer playground program is taking place too, sponsored by BBBS and the Garden City Recreation Commission for boys and girls from age five through 13. Locations include Scout Park, Finnup Park and East Garden Village. That program began June 1 and will conclude July 23. Lunch is being provided by USD 457 and books will be available for checkout from Books on the Bus at all the locations.

Kids' College

In addition to working with Big Brothers and Big Sisters, GCCC is also offering campus-based enrichment activities during the season for young people, primarily through our Ninth Annual Kids' College.

Classes have just started and enrollment is still open in the series of fun and learning activities for children, sponsored by our Continuing Education and Community Services Division. Kids' College includes six one-week class sessions for boys and girls from age four through fifth grade.

The first session got started June 8, and each includes five class periods, running from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., so children who want to may spend the entire day at GCCC.

The classes, which drew 487 enrollments last summer, cover animals, computers, games, cooking, art, math, science, dance, gymnastics and other topics, and nearly 60 have been scheduled.

Sessions include June 8 through 12, June 15 through 19, June 22 through 26, July 6 through 10, July 13 through 17 and July 20 through 24. Each class runs the full week, and class times include 8 to 9:15 a.m., 9:30 to 10:45 a.m.; 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.; 1:15 to 2:30 p.m. and 2:45 to 4 p.m.

Lunch breaks are scheduled at 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. daily. Children may stay on campus over lunch, with supervision provided. There are two lunchtime options, including supervised lunch hour with children bringing their own meals, $5 per week; or supervised lunch hour with children able to eat at the college cafeteria, $20 per week.

The cost for each Kids' College class is $30 per child. Classes are grouped by age, with one set designed for children in grades Kindergarten through two, another for grades three to five, and also a kinder-prep level. Each class requires sufficient enrollment to take place.

Kids' College registration is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays at the SCSC, or by contacting the coordinator, Diana Machotka, at 275-3232. Parents may direct questions to personalenrichment@gcccks.edu, too.

GCCC Director of Information Services Steve Quakenbush can be e-mailed at steve.quakenbush@gcccks.edu.