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Campus Corps provides direction to at-risk youth

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Campus Corps is a multidisciplinary service learning course at CSU where undergraduate students serve as mentors to at-risk youth. (Photo Illustration: Cam Bumsted)

Thanks to a small group of Colorado State University students, local at-risk youth are receiving guidance through mentoring at a crucial time in their lives.

According to Program Director and CSU professor Jen Krafchick, Campus Corps links college student volunteers with Fort Collins kids facing a troubled home life, disciplinary problems or who are struggling in the classroom.

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The volunteer-based club partners each kid with a college-aged mentor who provides them with a support system they might not otherwise have access to, Krafchick said.

The club meets for four hours a week for a 12-week period, during which the participants eat dinner together, work on homework and join in pro-social activities such as gardening or science experiments, Krafchick said.

“We’ve done everything from sports to poetry,” Krafchick said. “We try and bring a lot of diversity into the activities so all the participants can find something they like. We even made hovercrafts.”

Krafchick said the young participants are recommended by school systems, therapists and juvenile court systems. She said college students work well as role models for kids without strong direction in their lives.

“We’ve been shown to successfully  help kids, to the point that we’re receiving national attention,” said senior Campus Corps intern Katie Harnson. “This is such a positive outlet for them.”

The club, founded in 2010, also extends to the professional world.

“We’ve helped students complete their GED and apply for jobs or college,” Krafchick said. “We want to set them up for success.”

Campus Corps techniques are based on years of mentoring research, and every session is supervised by a graduate student studying family therapy, Krafchick said.

“It gives the kids the chance to speak to a therapist in a casual, no-pressure atmosphere,” Krafchick said.

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Arja said the club has changed her life.

“It’s so great to know that every volunteer is there to help make a difference, and when the kids walk in, it’s like a light,” Arja said. “You just know how much they want to be here.”

Arja said one of the best aspects of the club is the variety of students participating.

“It’s not just psychology majors — we have over 85 different colleges participating,” Arja said. “It shows that this is something everybody needs.”

Campus Corps applications are due April 1, but late applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Collegian reporter Rachel Musselmann can be reached online at news@collegian.com or on twitter @rmusselmann 

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