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The Weber State University Psychology Department is involved with Youth Impact, an after-school program for children of all ages in the Ogden area.
Mindy Russell-Stamp, an adviser for Youth Impact students and a professor at WSU, said that when she got involved with Youth Impact she thought it was a “very cool program.”
WSU and the psychology department have been involved with Youth Impact for six months. Ogden-area children can attend Youth Impact free of charge, and a meal is included.
“It is an after-school program for Ogden District children,” said Gentry Phillips, a WSU psychology senior. “It’s something for them to do after school. Youth Impact is not just a free range for the kids to do whatever they want. They keep track of grades. They need to be continually improving and if not, there are consequences.”
Russell-Stamp said the WSU psychology students teach social skills to the children at Youth Impact.
“They also teach things like how to keep your cool, how to give compliments and learn to ask for help.”
WSU psychology students are there to help where they can and to provide a listening ear.
“We are not there to punish the kids,” Phillips said. “We are there to sit amongst them, and if they have questions or concerns, they can ask us. We can also relay any information back to the appropriate people. We mostly just get to play with them. For example, the other day, I was playing ping-pong with some of the children. But it’s really more than just playing with them.”
Phillips said that, by playing with the children, the mentors can also help resolve conflict and make sure everyone is included.
“A lot of the time, we are trying to gain their trust,” Phillips said. “It’s just all-around really fun.”
Russell-Stamp said it isn’t just the children at Youth Impact who benefit from the mentors, but that the mentors themselves are also gaining something.
“A lot of Weber State students have reported that their perceptions of the adolescents changed,” Russell-Stamp said. “After working with them, it was like, ‘Wow, they are very resilient kids with not only a lot of strengths, but a great amount of potential.’”
Phillips said she will keep going to Youth Impact after college because of how much she has enjoyed the “real-world experience” she has had this semester.
“I think we’ve impacted them, and I don’t mean to sound arrogant saying that,” Phillips said. “But every time you go there, kids run up to you that you talked to last week. I must have impacted them in some way, because they remember me. Even in small amounts, you are making an impact, even if you don’t think you are.”