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No school, no problem, Rise Up For Youth using Zoom to mentor students at home

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Rise Up for Youth isn’t letting empty hallways or stay at home orders stop them from mentoring their students.

“We have more time throughout the day when our staff is not running around different schools,” says executive director Ariel Rodriguez-Williams.

When the dominoes fell and students were unable to go to school, Rise Up for Youth rose up to the challenge.

“I was at work actually when I got the call,” says Wichita East High Senior Destiny Kemp. “I cried that day at work.”

Right now, she would be just weeks away from getting her diploma. It difficult concept to grasp for Kemp and many other students.

“We wanted to make sure we were continuing to check in with our students. We know there are a lot of changes going on for them. We wanted to continue to meet them and make sure their mental well-being is good,” Williams-Rodriguez said.

Usually those meetings are held in a classroom.

“I like it,” Kemp said. “I wish it was still in person.”

Nonetheless, she is still meeting with her mentor online and says her goals well within sight.

“I am going to be going to Butler my first two years, and after I get my generals, I was planning on going to the police academy when I turn 21 to be a police officer,” Kemp explained.

Williams-Rodriguez and the other mentors are using Zoom, a video chat service that allows them to meet with their students weekly and throughout the summer.

“I just clicked the link, and it went straight to the over,” she said.

It will take some serious scrolling to reach all 600 of their students, but Rodriguez-Williams believes they are just browsing over the potential of how technology will help the program continue.

“Their future is still ahead of them. They are still going to be thinking about careers. They are still going to be thinking about other skills so we do not want them to think that life stops now,” Rodriguez-Williams explained.

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