Friday, July 11, 2008
Social Work club provides mentoring to Pontiac students
By Rebecca Wyatt Thomas, OU Web Writer
Students at Lincoln Middle School face the normal, early teen life issues. And many of the students face the challenges that also come along with being underprivileged. Members of OU’s Social Work club met with students from the middle school this year to provide them with an outlet, a support system and sometimes a little advice.
According to Social Work Club advisor Lynetta Mosby, three students participated in the program this year and the club will work with the school again during the upcoming school year. There will be more opportunities for other OU students to get involved.
“Oakland University students are providing a community service to the middle school,” Mosby said. “They are mentors for the students who are at-risk academically and socially, and they are using their skills to help get them on track.”
Tara Forbes, president of the Social Work Club, worked weekly with a group of six girls from the schools.
“We would meet and talk about things that happened in their homes and school and the problems they had,” Forbes said. “I used a lot of what I learned in my social work classes about how to work with underprivileged children. I let them open up and talk. Sometimes they don’t have an outlet like that anywhere else. I would work with them to problem-solve and figure out the right thing to do.”
The OU students were able to get hands-on experience in the area of social work and learn more about the field.
“It gave the students a chance to experience the feeling of working in social work. This is a career or profession they have chosen to go into. The students like being able to give back to the community. They are working toward the feeling of what it’s going to be like when they become a social worker,” Mosby said.
Mosby said by getting the hands-on experience, the students also become more engaged in the classroom and are able to participate in conversations with the professors about their experiences.
“The students are out there learning about their profession and connecting with the community,” Mosby said.
Forbes met with her middle school group once a week. She previously participated in a program at an elementary school in Pontiac, but hadn’t worked with the middle school age group in the past. She said it exposed her to a new set of problems and a new way to approach solutions.
“Social work is counseling and connecting people with the resources they need. We have to go in with a non-judgmental attitude and help people,” Forbes said. “Working at Lincoln Middle School allows us to practice that.”
Forbes will serve as the Social Work Club president next fall and intends to work with Lincoln Middle School again. Others who want to participate will have to volunteer at least one hour per week at the school, be a member of the Social Work Club, complete the volunteer application and be subject to a background check by Pontiac Schools.
“You don’t have to be a social work major to participate. We’ve had social work students, sociology students and even business students. We are looking for anyone who wants to participate, particularly males who can serve as mentors,” Forbes said.
For more information on the Social Work Club, or to participate in the program at Lincoln Middle School, contact Forbes at firstname.lastname@example.org.