Chautauqua Striders working with north county youth

Chautauqua Striders, Inc. is celebrating its 35th year of mentoring and guiding youth through education, advocacy and athletics. What began as a Jamestown running club in 1979 with just 25 athletes has grown into an agency that works with 1,800 students and athletes annually county-wide. Since 2006 Chautauqua Striders, Inc. has steadily expanded its mission to northern Chautauqua County. With guidance from the Chautauqua County Youth Bureau, Striders teamed with Infinity Visual and Performing Arts and the Boys and Girls Club of Northern Chautauqua County to create the North County Youth Collaborative. Since that time, Striders has provided academic tutoring in all northern Chautauqua County school districts and mentoring in the Dunkirk School District.

Mentoring is available at School 3, the middle school, and at Striders north county office in the former St. Hyacinth School in Dunkirk. Mentors meet with students, their mentees, once a week during lunch or after school throughout the school year. Together they discuss school and friendships while working on goal setting and communication skills. Current volunteers are community members, business professions, and students from SUNY Fredonia. The time spent with a young person is relatively short each week, but it is proven valuable in as much time spent together can increase their self-esteem and commitment to school. The long term dedication from mentoring matches give students support and encouragement to develop a connection to the community and improve their school experience. As adults reflect on the experiences that shaped their youth, they often remember the person who offered guidance. It was a coach, teacher, family friend, or neighbor that made such an impact. A number of studies have revealed a correlation between a young person’s involvement in a quality mentoring relationship and positive outcomes in school, mental health, and behavior.

Along with the after school academic presence at many North County schools throughout the years, Striders has been a dedicated partner with Boys & Girls Club of Northern Chautauqua County. Tutoring is currently offered for club members Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday 3-5 p.m. Next year, Striders Lighted Schoolhouse North will offer tutoring Monday through Thursday from 3-5 p.m. and Thursday evenings from 5:30-7 p.m. for all area youth at no cost to families. Striders small group tutoring and academic support focuses on homework, test preparation, organizational skills and study skills. Striders employs academic tutors to assist in reading fluency, improve mathematical ability, and develop writing and research skills which are the core areas of understanding needed for overall academic success. Additionally tutors provide purposeful academic enrichment opportunities within a facade of games and projects.

According to tutor, Kelly, “I enjoy tutoring and watching the academic progression of my students on a weekly basis. The consistent engagement with students is very rewarding, because it is a learning process for me and has helped me prepare for my future career.”

Chautauqua Striders, Inc. has built solid partnerships in recent years with Dunkirk Free Library, Dunkirk Rotary Club, and SUNY Fredonia. As a result, students participated in enriched activities including a Math and Science Day, a five week Young Writers’ Symposium and successful family nights. Striders has many strong community supporters which advance our mission to the mentoring and guidance of youth through education, advocacy and athletics. Those dedicated to tutoring and mentoring in the Dunkirk area include: United Way of Northern Chautauqua County, Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation, Cassadaga Job Corps, Jamestown Community College, Chautauqua County Youth Bureau and Chautauqua Tapestry.

For more information about Chautauqua Striders, Inc. or to join the 35th anniversary campaign log onto www.chautauqua-striders.org or call 488-2203.