Published May 08, 2019 by Samara Nassor ’22

A Day of Young-Old Friendships (and of Running Really Fast Across the Quad)

From scavenging for artifacts at the Peary-MacMillan Arctic Museum, to face painting, solving puzzles, and playing basketball in Morrell Gym, there was something exciting for every child (all fifty-four of them) and every mentor during Bridge to Kids Day on May 3, an annual McKeen Center event since 2007.

The Bridge to Kids mentoring initiative pairs college students with children at seven neighboring schools to focus on building relationships and social skills. The mentors meet one-on-one with their mentees at the schools for recreational activities during recess or conversations during lunchtime and in classes.

Every year since 2007, all the elementary school kids in Bridge to Kids—as well as all the children in Bowdoin's other mentoring programs—have visited campus for a day. Middle school and high school students come the following week.

Kay Torrey ’19, who is a McKeen Fellow for Bowdoin Volunteer Corps Mentoring and organizes the campus visits for schoolchildren, said the tight-knit bonds formed between older and younger students are mutally beneficial. “The fact that they are missing school for this day is a testament to the success of our mission,” she said. 

The young students expressed their eagerness to attend Bowdoin the moment they stepped onto campus. “This is a chance for the children to experience college life and it sends a message that they, too, can go to college,” Tracy Libby said. Libby, along with Darcy Baggett, are school social workers who oversee the group’s programs in the selected schools. 

Matt Gee, assistant director for the McKeen Center, said that his team works hard to support student endeavors. “There are as many as seventeen youth-focused groups with curricular interests, such as teaching girls how to code, and nine mentoring groups like Bridge to Kids that seek community outreach. We are receptive to everyone's ideas.”