A new program for student peer mentoring builds empathy and hope at Mansfield Middle School and kindness is becoming second nature.

Student Peer Mentoring Builds EmpathyWalking through the halls, it is easy to see an ocean of blue ROAR (Real Opportunity for Achievement and Readiness) t-shirts and note cards featuring compliments from peers fill the student lockers.

In social studies class, students were studying the Revolutionary War, and they automatically considered the point of view of people living in that era without any prompting from teachers.

The goal of the ROAR program sponsored by the North End Community Improvement Collaborative (NECIC) is to help students build character, set goals, and develop pathways to achievement in a positive future.

“Sometimes people ask, ‘What does this have to do with mentoring?'” NECIC executive director Michael J. Howard said of ROAR. “Well, you’ve got to take care of the basic foundational things in a kid, in a young person, before you can even get to those other things like what are you going to do with your life and what’s your vision of the future… You can’t treat one little portion. You can’t just try to put a little band-aid on it. You have to deal with everything that a person brings to school with them.”

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