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UWS students hold carnival for kids waiting for mentors

More than 200 youth in the Twin Ports searching for mentors had a chance to participate in a carnival planned by criminal justice students at the University of Wisconsin-Superior (Courtesy of assistant professor Allison Willingham of UW-Superior)

A group of students from the University of Wisconsin Superior criminal justice program hosted a carnival Friday, May 3, for kids ages 5-17, at the Boys and Girls Club of the Northland, Lincoln Park branch.

More than 200 youngsters were invited to the carnival; all of the children and teens are on a waitlist to be matched with mentors.

Mentor Duluth is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that matches positive adults to young people in need of role models, guides, resources and friends. According to UWS assistant professor Allison Willingham, the students chose to work with Mentor Duluth because they recognized the value of positive role models and mentorships for at-risk youth.

To prepare for the event, students enrolled in CJUS463 Delinquency and Juvenile Justice raised cash and prize donations.

Additionally, the class recruited volunteers from community partners to help facilitate activities at the carnival, including the Boys and Girls Club, the UW-Superior Pruitt Center for Mindfulness and Well-Being, Lake Superior Zoo and Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge.

Dozens of children enjoyed homemade carnival games such as balloon darts, water blasters, duck pond, mini-bowling, mini-hockey and ring toss. The event also featured kids' yoga, arts and crafts, a board game center, a temporary tattoo station and an inflatable jousting game, as well as prizes for all attendees.

"We are so grateful to be able to provide even just a few hours of excitement and fun for these kids, and to draw attention to the great work that Mentor Duluth does," Willingham said. "We hope the UW-Superior criminal justice students will continue to put together an event for wait-listed children from Mentor Duluth every year, because there is such a need to connect these youths to positive adults. We really believe in the work that Mentor Duluth does."

With 212 young people in the Twin Ports area still waiting for mentors, Mentor Duluth and Mentor Superior are both in dire need of interested volunteers. Mentors spend an average eight hours a month with their assigned mentees for one year. Background checks and training are required.

For more information and for mentor application forms, visit mentorduluth.org.

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