STAR: Students Training as Role Models
Begun in 1995, the STAR program is designed for at-risk children between the ages of 9 and 14. Most are from low to moderate income families in South Glendale. Students enter the program recommended by teachers, school administrators, and others. Typically, STAR has 12-20 children enrolled in the program. Many come from impoverished family situations or single-parent homes or those without nurturing parents or families. This is an intensive long-term mentoring and guidance program that involves both the students and their families
Ages 9-14 are often difficult for youngsters. They are more likely to succumb to peer pressure and join gangs, take drugs, or make other poor life choices. The officers and program staff help students develop the tools to be effective advocates for their own success.
How STAR Works
The group meets weekly with program-dedicated uniformed officers and park staff. Students receive mentorship, support, and care through lesson plans, life skills, dialogue, activities, academic achievement, and community service. As a result, officers and staff develop a special bond with the students. The point-based program rewards good behavior predicated on the Six Pillars of Character: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, citizenship, and caring. In addition, each week, the staff, officers, and students share a nutritious dinner. For some students, it is the only real meal of the day.
In addition to the weekly meetings, the group goes on an educational outing each month. Students may go camping, visit a museum, or attend a play. These experiences further enrich the students’ lives.
Services provided to the students include:
- Academic tutoring to help students catch-up or excel in school. Older students also help tutor younger ones.
- Life skill classes about drug abuse, gang prevention, and the results of poor life choices.
- Help students to prevent/ address bullying, increase self-esteem, deal with peer pressure, and cope with family issues.
- Educational enrichment activities such as art projects, educational outings, and remedial or advanced school subjects
- Opportunities to serve the community in senior housing visits, trash clean-up, graffiti eradication, and other interactions with residents of Glendale.
Parents Are Key to Program Success
Parents are involved every step of the way. Many students come from impoverished family situations, single parent homes, or homes with other issues. STAR includes the child’s family in the program. Officers and park staff work with parents to help with housing issues or appropriate social programs that may be needed. They also model parenting skills that are critical to the successful development of a child. Students who know they have their families support have a high likelihood of graduating from the program.
By graduation, the change in the youth is obvious. They have more self-esteem, work smarter, budget their time, get along better with their peers, and respect themselves and others. They have developed a positive life attitude that prepares them for the future. There have been many success stories over the years. Some youngsters have turned their lives around completely and become productive community members. Some children achieve academic success and attend Ivy League schools. The benefits of years of support, learning, guidance and care are a powerful draw for children looking to successful lives.
The program is run on a very slim budget and as a non-profit, we depend on donations.