CLARK, NJ – The LINKS Mentoring Program at Frank K. Hehnly School had its initial kickoff with student mentors on Friday, September 9. 

During the kickoff meeting, each group of students was given a lemon and was asked to describe its characteristics. Students studied the lemon and took note of all of its special features.  The lemons were placed together in a bowl, and students were asked to identify theirs. Students understood that while all lemons may look alike, they are in fact uniquely different.  The activity provided an experience to help children understand the relationship between generalizations and stereotypes.   

Guidance Counselor Sarah Badillo and Learning Consultant Lisa Giandana asked the students to think about how people might make assumptions about those with disabilities.  Students shared that someone in a wheelchair may actually want to play basketball and that an autistic student probably does want a friend, even though they may have a bit of trouble making friends.  

The LINKS Mentor program is run by Badillo and Giandana.  It provides training to young mentors and helps foster friendships in and out of school for students identified as needing social and emotional support.