The Links Reaching New Heights Rising Stars Program is a collaborative partnership between Mc Donogh #35, an OPSB public school, and the Pontchartrain Chapter of The Links, Incorporated which is in its 3rd year of operation. The program targets 25-30 female students in the 8th and 10th grades.
Through the help of school counselors, social worker and teachers, the LINKS Reaching New Heights Rising Stars Program was presented to girls at Mc Donogh #35 School. The girls were asked to complete an application that required their parents’/guardians’ signature. The application sought to identify their interests and potential commitment to the program. More than 75 girls expressed interest in the program and the program was filled to the capacity of 30. The Rising Stars meet monthly during the school year for field trips planned and coordinated by each of the five facets with a focus on elements of programming encouraged by national initiatives of The Links, Incorporated. The Rising Stars also meet during classroom time for 4 hours every other month (October, December, February, and April) during the school year for preparation and follow-up of field trip instruction and to correspond and Skype with their female pen-pals in Ghana.
The LINKS Reaching New Heights is an umbrella program and was supported by the following facets: Services to Youth Facet, International Trends and Services Facet, Arts Facet, National Trends and Services Facet and Health and Human Services Facet. The following represents an overview of how each aforementioned facet participated in our integrated program:
The Services to Youth Facet was the lead facet as it represented the target population for our goal to impact female students, and coordinated activities for (5) five months out of the (9) nine- month school year. Services to Youth spearheaded and coordinated all programming related to the Mentoring Initiative including but not limited to: program design and planning, program implementation timelines, establishment of evaluation criteria and methodology. This Facet also communicated with parents of mentees and coordinated assignment of chapter member mentors.
The International Trends and Services Facet organized pen-pal writing and Skype opportunities with a group of female students in Ghana through a partnership with the Bolgantanga School for Girls in Ghana. This facet also organized for a speaker series of persons with international travel experiences to share them with the group.
The Arts Facet purchased musical instruments for students that were part of the Mc Donogh #35 School band and marching unit, purchased art supplies for students that were part of the schools Talented Visual Arts program, and supported exposure to the performing arts by funding attendance to a nationally acclaimed African Dance Theatrical performance of UMOJA: Spirit of Togetherness.
The National Trends and Services Facet held a seminar for the girls on controlling your digital footprint with a discussion on social networking and cyber-bullying was emphasized. This Facet also will host a seminar on civic engagement and municipal government which will culminate in the mentees taking a field trip to be recognized by the New Orleans City Council and attendance at the meeting of same.
The Health and Human Services Facet exposed the girls to health related topics/careers, and organized and funded annual participation in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure walk.