Facebook59Tweet0Pin0Submitted by TOGETHER!Most of us remember middle school as a time of difficult social dynamics and personal embarrassment, but some of us had it harder than others. Students who experience higher numbers of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) such as poverty, homelessness, food instability, divorce, substance abuse in the home, or any form of child abuse have a much higher likelihood of behavioral, social and academic difficulties in school.There are, however, protective factors that can mitigate the effects of these ACEs, and having a positive adult ally who is consistently present and really cares is right at the top of the list.Having a positive adult mentor can make a big difference during the tumultuous middle school years. Photo credit: Kaylie RothLocal nonprofit TOGETHER! has teamed up with Tumwater School District to do something about the impact of ACEs at this complicated stage of life. As part of their Community Schools program, which works to integrate school & community resources to support all students and their families, they are piloting a school-based mentoring program designed to support students as they transition from elementary into middle school.The program is called Pathmakers and is being piloted this year at Michael T. Simmons Elementary School. Volunteer mentors will work with their mentees during the 5th and 6th grade years in both group and one-on-one activities that promote social-emotional learning skills such as emotional awareness, healthy communication, and collaborative problem-solving. If you’re interested in being a mentor or would like to learn more, click here to visit our website, or call Cynthia Spencer at 360-493-2230 x108.TOGETHER! is a local nonprofit organization that advances the health and well-being of all youth through impactful programs that align with their core values of equity, mobilization, and systems change. They partner with schools, local governments and other community organizations to provide services such as free after-school and drop-in programs, in-school resource coordination, health promotion, and substance abuse prevention. For more information about our programs and how you can be involved, please visit WATOGETHER.org.