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Program helps build, grow Del Rio youths

The Laughlin Air Force Base Building up Dynamic Del Rio Youth Program, or BUDDY, pairs service members and government employees at Laughlin to at-risk children within the San Felipe Del Rio Consolidated Independent School District to act as their mentor and advocate. (U.S. Air Force illustration by 2nd Lt. Dean Krupka)

The Laughlin Air Force Base Building up Dynamic Del Rio Youth Program, or BUDDY, pairs service members and government employees at Laughlin to at-risk children within the San Felipe Del Rio Consolidated Independent School District to act as their mentor and advocate. (U.S. Air Force illustration by 2nd Lt. Dean Krupka)

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --  

For Airmen, service entails many things. It means being a leader and a follower, a teacher and a student, a warrior and a diplomat.

Their diverse service, backgrounds and experiences make them ideal servants and ambassadors to their communities.

Helping to bring these experiences to the next generation is a new initiative called the Building up Dynamic Del Rio Youth Program, which has begun to connect members of Team XL to local school children in need of a role model.

“A program like this can bring real change in students’ lives,” said Janet Johnson, Laughlin school liaison officer. “It changes their ability to connect with people and gives them options for the future. It shows them all the opportunities that can be opened for them.”

The goal of the BUDDY program is to improve academics, self-esteem and social skills and alleviate behavioral issues in selected at-risk students within the San Felipe Del Rio Consolidated School District by connecting these students with a caring adult, explained Johnson.

“This is a significant opportunity to work with local students to help build up their self-esteem, to work with and encourage them and to be an all-around role model and friend to them,” Johnson said.

Currently, The BUDDY program focuses on children in elementary and middle school, but plans are in place to expand the program to include high school students in the future.

“By pairing students with personnel here, we are building a broader partnership between the community and base,” said Johnson. “This partnership gives students a sense of ownership in the program and in their education.”

Mentors meet their student at school to talk, play games, assist with school work and introduce them to new hobbies and experiences.

Those interested in mentoring are expected to visit with their students at least once a month, but more frequent visits are encouraged.

All service members and government employees are welcome to volunteer.

For more information on the program, contact Johnson at 298-4788.