The Tolles Pavilion was abuzz with laughter, children’s music, and scribbling crayons this week during Hamilton Sidekicks’ annual Meet and Greet. Launched in 2012, Hamilton Sidekicks works to match college students with 1st through 4th grade students from Clinton Elementary School in pairs to foster lasting mentorships.
Early in September the organization sent out applications to both Clinton Elementary and Hamilton College students. Students interested in this unique mentorship opportunity were asked about everything from hobbies to favorite academic subjects to gain a complete understanding of potential matches. For the 2015 application process, the Sidekicks’ executive board was able to pair 30 children with interested college students.
With membership hovering around 150 individuals, large events such as the Meet and Greet can be difficult to coordinate but are generally well attended. Elizabeth Larson ’16 of Rochester, N.Y., has been a member since the club’s inception her first year and explains the impressive growth of the organization. A long-time executive board member, she finds events like this week’s event “really what’s best about Sidekicks.” Although a senior, she looks forward to keeping in contact with her Sidekick post-graduation. Sidekicks prides itself on allowing flexible scheduling, leaving it to individual pairs to schedule their own weekly meetings.
Frequently, Hamilton Sidekicks will show up to their younger counterparts’ athletic and extracurricular events, working to integrate Hamilton College into the fiber of Clinton’s close knit community. These attempts to foster positive relationships with community members seems to be quite successful as 5th grade participant Cassie Whitfield remarked “I do Sidekicks because it’s fun and I like exploring this college.” Another 5th grade student, Sophia, described her excitement over the age of the participants. She remarks that “I like it. I like that you get to spend time with older kids, not adults, but kids.”
The positive effect the club has on the Clinton community is certainly not lost on its college age participants. Cassie Dennison ’16, a Clinton local, was drawn to the organization after her younger sister participated last year. Dennison admits to having gotten a good impression after having seen peers enjoy their involvement with the COOP-sponsored organization and felt the urge to “Give back to the community a little bit too.” Jasmine Ngyuen ’19 of Malden, Mass., is new to the club and is excited to begin getting to know her Sidekick. She described Sidekicks as if “You have a replacement little sibling while you’re away from home.”
With a strong showing at the club’s first event of the academic year, the executive board is currently planning more large-group events, promising a movie night in the upcoming weeks.