Y students serve children through ACCESS

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    By CHRISTIE ROBINS

    ACCESS gives BYU students the chance to be big brothers and big sisters.

    Advocates for a Child’s Community Exposure and Socialization Success is BYU’s largest service organization.

    ACCESS provides positive role models for children who need a little extra attention, said Matt Park, 21, a junior from Provo majoring in pre-medicine, who is the ACCESS budget director.

    As big brothers and big sisters, BYU students are paired up with children who have been referred to ACCESS by the Division of Children Family and Services, counselors at public schools or by the families themselves, said Eliza Miller, 20, a junior from Provo majoring in elementary education, who is the director of ACCESS.

    At a recent ACCESS meeting, Miller referred to the General Women’s Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sept. 26.

    “President Hinckley said broken homes create broken societies,” Miller said.

    Miller said 90 percent of the children referred to ACCESS come from broken homes.

    “Some of these kids have been physically or emotionally abused. Their trust in people has been shattered. As BYU students, we can make a positive difference in their lives,” Miller said.

    Each pair of ACCESS volunteers meets with the same child on a weekly basis, which helps develop trust, Park said.

    “The kids are usually quiet at first, but after just a few activities, they really open up,” Park said.

    The volunteers plan the weekly activities with their “kids” and try to do fun things that are free or inexpensive, Miller said.

    Park said this service club offers a flexible schedule because volunteers can decide when they want to meet with their kids each week.

    Once a month, ACCESS puts on a “super activity” for all the volunteers and “their kids.”

    In September, the big brothers and sisters went roller skating with “their kids.” Malia Poai, director of Super Activities, said she is looking forward to the upcoming Halloween party.

    “These kids are starving for attention. It’s so exciting to see the kind of relationships the volunteers develop with the kids,” said Poai, 19, a sophomore from Orem majoring in pre-social work.

    Bonni Jones, the club’s record keeper, said, “Why not serve?”

    “ACCESS affects a lot of people in a good way. We can be good examples to kids who really need help,” said Jones, 20, a sophomore from Alpine, majoring in humanities.

    BYU students interested in becoming big brothers and sisters should pick up an ACCESS volunteer application in 3400 ELWC.

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