The Young Ambassadors
The Forest Glen Elementary School ambassador program has been active for only one year but has shown exceptional promise.
Being an ambassador means representing a group well to others in this case students, with integrity, honesty and trustworthiness. The students in the Young Ambassadors program at Forest Glen Elementary School are doing just that.
The Forest Glen Ambassador program has been active for only one year but has shown exceptional promise, according to founder Therese Crawford.
“It was modeled after Ben Franklin Elementary School’s program of the same name, which has been successful for three to four years,” Crawford said.
According to Crawford, a similar program is also run at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School. The primary difference between the two programs is that Lincoln is run more like a student council and is more civic-oriented, whereas Forest Glen and Ben Franklin’s programs focus more on volunteerism and community-driven events.
The group meets every other Thursday with members giving up their lunch hours to participate. Students mostly focus on community service projects, but also have other ventures.
“Because Earth Day is coming up, we weeded some areas around the school and picked up garbage, and another group planted seeds in the area,” Crawford explained, “but we also have other projects. We did a project for an animal shelter, and collected for Penny Wars.”
Penny Wars is a penny-collecting contest and the proceeds are used to purchase used soccer equipment and summer school supplies for the Glen Ellyn Children’s Resource Center, a group that works with underprivileged children in our area.
In addition to those activities, Crawford said The Ambassadors also sponsor a mentoring project called Reading Buddies.
“The students are paired with younger students in second grade to mentor their reading capabilities,” she said.
The group functions much like a volunteering match-up program. Fourth and fifth-grade students are invited to complete an application for the club, listing their interests from which the club’s projects are determined.
“We want this to be a student-driven program,” said Crawford, “this way, they have some ownership in the projects.”
Last year Ms. Crawford heard about Ben Franklin’s program and thought it sounded like a great idea. She always thought of volunteering as a priority, so she contacted the head of the Franklin program and decided to start one at Forest Glen.
This is not entirely an adult-led effort, either. The members sign a contract and are expected to participate. They understand the commitment that’s expected of them: attend meetings, make friends and exhibit responsibility.
Some changes are expected for next year. Though the Young Ambassadors has been hugely successful - gaining 56 members this year - but due to size and time constraints, it may only be available to fifth graders next year. According to Crawford, the group may also increase the scope of their projects and include global projects to increase awareness of global concerns.
“The purpose of this program is to increase volunteerism, have more responsibility delegated to them, and teach them leadership," said Crawford.