Jumpstart Afterschool Program Mentor
Fairhaven Elementary School
For Curtis Vinish, being involved in the Jumpstart Afterschool Program as a mentor has been part of his continuing education. Vinish, who is studying education at the University of Saskatchewan, wanted to gain some practical experience outside the study hall and got involved with Jumpstart in 2016.
As a mentor, Vinish leads structured after school activities for students in Grades 3-7. On any given day he’ll work with 13 to 20 students. When the session starts, Vinish greets the students and asks them about their day. After giving an announcement about the day’s activities, he leads the students in a warm-up and then through a series of sport, recreational and cultural activities.
Vinish was actually one of two summer students hired to create the activities for the program. He assisted in the development of specific modules and provided feedback to establish themes, and then helped tailor the programming once he discovered that the students had certain activities that they were interested in, and that they wanted to learn and develop specific skills.
Some of the favourite activities of the students include basketball and dodgeball. He has also incorporated an Indigenous component by including traditional games, which he said has been a big hit with students.
“We set it up so there were four stations and at the beginning of each station we would tell a story about why Indigenous people played this game and then gave them an opportunity to try the game. They learn the reasoning behind the game and what skills would be developed.”
Vinish said that students have really “flourished” through their involvement with the program.
“They have gained confidence to be themselves,” he said. “It has been really cool to be a part of a program where the students look forward to showing up. They always ask, ‘What are we doing tomorrow?’ Without the program, a lot of these students would spend time looking at a screen or just go home and do nothing. It’s important to have a safe place where you can learn sports and culture with your peers, create friendships, and have somebody that looks out and cares for you.”
For Vinish, the experience has definitely taught him something he couldn’t learn through his studies.