Friends can be Frogs too

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    A new mentorship program started by three TCU students is making a difference at R.L. Paschal High School.

    The FroggieFriends program allows TCU students to partner with a special needs student from Paschal to help them build social skills by playing sports.

    Juniors Sarah Doherty, Matt Sprunger and Carly Hirvela started the program with the help of the BNSF Next Generation Leadership Program.

    “We saw a need in how students with special needs don’t necessarily have the chance to play on sports teams,” Doherty said.

    The program organizes games like soccer and basketball for the students with special needs to participate in.

    “It provides them with an opportunity to get exercise and build relationships,” Doherty said.

    The mentorship group consists of nine mentors from TCU and 10 mentees from Paschal, Hirvela said.

    FroggieFriends meets at Paschal every Tuesday from 2-3 p.m. and has a positive impact on students from both campuses.

    “It’s an hour of my Tuesday that I can go play with kids and just have fun,” sophomore child development major Ashley Maffit said. “I feel like I really do brighten their day, just by having an older mentor that can play games with them and can spend time with them.”

    Sprunger said the program gives the students a chance to talk with other people outside of their classes.

    “I feel like it gives them someone to look up to,” Sprunger said. “A lot of them are just stuck in the classroom all day. It’s just a growing opportunity for them to be able to talk with other people in here.”

    Donna Harkey, Paschal’s educational diagnostician/evaluation specialist, said that the program is making a difference at Paschal and that the students get excited every Tuesday when FroggieFriends visits.

    “They enjoy the fact that they get to participate and play games because that’s meaningful to them with friends that aren’t just in their class,” Harkey said. “It’s kind of a sense of belonging and sharing with other people and the games have been fun.”

    FroggieFriends is going through the process of becoming an organization at TCU so that they can continue working with Paschal in years to come.

    “The goal is to keep the relationships between the current mentors and the current mentees to continue on just past the semester,” Hirvela said.