Partners mentors spread kindness during Global Youth Service Day |

Partners mentors spread kindness during Global Youth Service Day

AmeriCorps program unites 6th-graders and 2nd-graders for

Jack Weinstein

— A little kindness can go a long way.

That was the theme of a lesson Steamboat Springs Middle School sixth-graders gave to Soda Creek Elementary School second-graders Tuesday during an activity created by AmeriCorps volunteers who serve as school-based mentors for Partners in Routt County Global Youth Service Day.

The sixth-graders read "Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deed" by Emily Pearson to Soda Creek's five second-grade classes. The story is about Mary, whose good deeds build upon one other and affect entire communities.

The concept of kindness and how it affects others wasn't lost on many of the second-graders.

"You'll make everybody happy and you maybe get something back," second-grader Mallory Thomas said. "We can make a better world, and it will be better to live in."

Partners Program Manager Becky Slamal said the school-based mentors had participated in Global Youth Service Day since the program was created to put AmeriCorps volunteers in the Routt County middle schools more than 10 years ago.

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She said AmeriCorps required the school-based mentors to participate in the service day, but Slamal said that's not the only reason for it.

"It's important for the kids to learn to give back to their community," she said.

Second-grade teacher Lisa Hogue said she welcomed the opportunity to have the sixth-graders read to her students. The 15 sixth-graders volunteered to read to the Soda Creek second-graders. Another group of 15 sixth-graders read to second-graders at Strawberry Park Elementary School on Tuesday afternoon.

"I think it's great, especially the global aspect, because the kids realize they can affect their world in a positive way," she said. "Also, it brings to light the simple acts of kindness. It doesn't have to be donating a ton of money."

School-based mentor Sam Melamed said he and the other mentors at Steamboat Springs Middle School wanted to do a project that involved literacy. He said they gave the sixth-graders a few ideas and the students ran with them.

And with the lesson coming from the second-graders' older peers, Melamed said he hoped it would get through.

"I think it's more meaningful having the sixth-graders show the second-graders," he said.

Global Youth Service Day actually was last month. Slamal said because projects have taken place outdoors in the past, the school-based mentors waited for better weather.

Global Youth Service Day activities are scheduled for Thursday in Hayden and May 18 in South Routt. Middle school students in both districts will participate in outdoor cleanup and beautification projects and other activities.

Slamal said May 14 to 21 is the fifth annual National AmeriCorps Week. She said it is intended to highlight work that AmeriCorps volunteers do in communities across the country.

Last week's activity certainly fit the bill. And the second-graders weren't the only ones to learn from the lesson.

"I think it's good to help the community and give back," sixth-grader Caitlin Musselman said. "And it's good to be nice."

— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email

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