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Mentoring participants meet president and Mrs. Obama

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WASHINGTON – A mentor and mentee from the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Three Affiliated Tribes participated in a White House ceremony Jan. 20 marking National Mentoring Month. President Barack Obama and the first lady joined the event in an effort to increase public awareness of the benefits of mentoring.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Three Affiliated Tribes receives funding to support mentoring services through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Mentoring Tribal Youth initiative and the Department of Health and Human Service’s Mentoring Children of Prisoners program.

The mentor, David Williams grew up on the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota. He attended the club as a youth, and as he grew older, served as a junior staff member. David attended North Dakota State University and returned to the community and the club each summer. After completing his degree, he wanted to work in his home community where he began teaching at the tribe’s alternative education program.

David was paired with William, a 15-year-old mentee, in August 2009. William had previously been receiving failing grades in high school, but this fall enrolled in the Ma-Adoo-Za-Gidz (It’s a Good Thing) Alternative Education Program, a collaboration between New Town Schools and Boys & Girls Clubs of the Three Affiliated Tribes. The goal of the program is to prevent youth from dropping out of school.

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The mentoring match sees each other daily at school and also meets one-on-one at least weekly. During their mentoring sessions, they have discussed career paths, goal-setting, and plans for applying for and attending college. They also enjoy playing basketball and working out together. Since beginning the mentoring program and new high school, William has made great strides.

He is now receiving excellent grades in school, joined the cross country team, and recently won the North Dakota Native American Science Fair. He will travel to Albuquerque, N.M., in March to compete in the 2010 National American Indian Science & Engineering Fair.

During the event, William and David sat on stage behind the speakers who included First Lady Michelle Obama, the 2009 Little Brother of the Year, and President Barack Obama. Following her comments, Mrs. Obama sat next to William for the remainder of the event. After concluding their remarks, both David and William were able to shake hands with the president and first lady.

While in Washington, the mentoring match, accompanied by Boys & Girls Club staff member Ryan Eagle, toured the national mall and attended a Washington Wizards basketball game. Upon returning home, William plans to visit all six units of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Three Affiliated Tribes to share his experiences with other club members and to encourage their participation in the mentoring program.