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National mentoring program meets
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Alex Hammeke shoots for a hole in one. - photo by TRACY K. WILLIAMS

ELLINWOOD — It was a warm, breezy day with the fountains bubbling and the creek flowing. It was an ideal day for golfing as the chosen few participated in miniature golf on Sept. 16 at Walnut Bowl. Mark Bretches school liaison of the Great Bend Police Dept. shared the excitement of the fun activities to come.

"Principles of Ellinwood and Great Bend grade schools were asked to choose students that were very well behaved and most likely to benefit a great deal from the program," Bretches said. "There are nine schools involved."

America’s Promise is a program that is going strong in the Great Bend area for 10 years now. This is the second year Ellinwood was invited to participate.

Founded in 1997 with General Colin Powell as chairman and chaired today by Alma Powell, America’s Promise Alliance is a cross-sector partnership of 400+ corporations, nonprofits, faith-based organizations and advocacy groups that are passionate about improving lives and changing outcomes for children.

According to the City of Great Bends website, the City of Great Bend is committed to America’s Promise, which is sponsored locally by Community Bank of the Midwest and involves different City departments. This nationwide mentoring program allows City leaders to participate in mentoring activities with selected students.

"Having high school and Barton college kids join the forces as mentors has been fun. Several of these kids were in the program in their grade school years," Bretches said. "It’s neat to see them interact with these kids."

There are events planned once a month throughout the school year. Slated thus far include bowling, miniature golf, a Christmas shopping spree, swimming, a trip to the Cosmosphere, a snake and animal show, flying in airplanes, a community service project, and an afternoon at the Fire Department.

The five promises of America’s Promise are: 1) Caring Adults 2) Safe places 3) A Healthy Start 4) Effective Education 5) Opportunities to help others.

Children who receive at least four of the five promises are much more likely than those who experience only one or zero promises to succeed academically, socially, and civically. They are more likely to avoid violence, contribute to their communities and achieve high grades in school.

Adult mentors include Chief Dean Akings -Great Bend Police Dept., Lily Akings - Director of Barton Co. Health Dept., Mark Bretches School Liaison Officer, Great Bend Police Dept., Diane Engle of Barton College, Meleah Frazer - Community Bank of the MidWest, Susie Guenther -DARE Great Bend Police Department, Paul Millard - Police Officer, Great Bend Police Dept., Mark Orth - Inspector, Great Bend Fire Dept., Jolene Thurston - Community Bank of the Mid West, Tammy Fish - Ellinwood Community Bank of the Mid West, and Christina Hayes - Regional Prevention Center.