Class project turns into community program

What began as a class project now has six students striving to make a better impression on the lives of Fort Worth community children who have incarcerated parents.The students in Cara Jacock’s Group Discussion class commanded the attention of about 35 students Monday night in a presentation about the M.A.T.C.H. Program, short for Mentoring Adolescents Together Creating Hope.

M.A.T.C.H. was founded in 2004 to enrich the lives of children with incarcerated parents by providing positive role models.

The students delivered a plea for others to get involved in the organization using personal accounts, a video, pictures and stories.

In a student-made video, school administrators, mentors and parents shared their experiences with the organization.

Every story had one common theme: Mentors are essential to ensure the success and social survival of these children.

“These are the innocent victims of the criminal justice system,” said Dawna Bailey, M.A.T.C.H. founder.

The students emphasized a positive role model can help a child stay in school and keep out of trouble through individual attention and consideration.

Heidi Barr, a sophomore English and social work major, has been involved with the program since the beginning of the semester.

It’s the little things a mentor does that can make a world of difference in the life of one of these children, Barr said.

The students ensured the audience the time commitment is a minimum of two hours a week and the cost is low.

The only real cost of the program is time, they said.

The program is in danger of losing government funding due to a lack of mentors, the students said.

Rudy, 12, a member of M.A.T.C.H., said he has a lot of fun with his mentor and urged the audience to join the program.

Bailey said the students are acting as a driving force in recruiting more applicants.

Ashley Young, a sophomore advertising/public relations major, said each member of the group has filled out an application to become a mentor.

Celeste Manner, a junior advertising/public relations major, said the class project required the students to choose a nonprofit organization, find a problem and try to fix it.

Young, who has been involved in the program for more than a year, said that this endeavor has become much more than a class project.