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Detroit program pairs young kids with mentors for 12+ years

Posted at 6:29 AM, Mar 06, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-06 07:48:40-05

(WXYZ) — A program in Detroit is focused on creating a guiding path for kids in the city. The program pairs children between the ages of 4 and 6 with professional mentors, known as "friends," and that commitment lasts more than a decade.

One of those students is Peighton Scheday. She's a bright, young and thriving 11-year-old, despite facing a difficult childhood associated with trauma with her mother in jail and her father not present.

Her grandmother, Tori, stepped in and adopted Peighton and got her into the Friends of the Children program.

"It was like a big sister or aunt. She loves and respects her," Tori said.

"She makes me feel smart Like if I don't have homework. She would just give me some math questions that she would do inside of my classroom," Peighton told us.

Every child needs a best friend, and more importantly, a role model. Ezekiel Peeples helps his friends tackle everything from homework to being a best friend.

"I am sitting with them for about two hours making sure they're staying focused, they're on track," Peeples said. "If they need a little bit of encouragement to participate with whatever is going on, I am there to help them out as well."

Outside of school, the character development continues.

"We also have five specific roadmap goals that we want to hit," Peeples said. "We work on school success, pro social development, improved health, making good choices and planning skills for the future."

The program has many impressive outcomes, helping change the life path for many children who face adversity growing up in metro Detroit.

Derschaun Brown is the executive director in Detroit.

"We give them structure, a paid professional mentor who again, walks alongside them for 12+ years, no matter what," Brown said.

The friends are that guide that offers a stable support system the children need.