Brave Buds program helps Gladstone students create friendships, combat bullying

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GLADSTONE, Mich. (WJMN)- A new peer-to-peer mentoring program has been implemented into Gladstone High School this school year.

It’s called Brave Buds, and it is modeled after Escanaba High School’s MoBuddies program that started six years ago.

Kris Hawes-Aikens, an Escanaba High School Special Education Consultant, said the creation of MoBuddies has been a catalyst for these types of programs across the Upper Peninsula.

Senior and junior students can apply to be in the Brave Buds program for an elective course. From there, Jeanne Brant, the coordinator of the program, picks and pairs mentors with special education students.

The mentors will sit with their mentees in class and help them with their homework, and combat social anxieties by creating friendships and making them feel comfortable at school.

Hallie Miron, a senior at Gladstone High School, said she sees a difference in her mentee already and that they have a lot of fun together.

“I talk with [my mentee] and let her know that she can tell me anything, and just really get to know her […] I think it’s a really good learning experience, and also really fun. I like the idea of forming friendships with everyone.”

After seeing the impact of MoBuddies, Principal Andy Jacques of Gladstone High School wanted to do something for their own kids who are struggling with academics and socially.

He said the end goal of the program is to help these students graduate.

“Both mentors and mentees seem so happy. They’ve had a lot of smiles and laughs and creating that relationship. Even as little as going down the hallway, you see a freshman kid get a high five from a senior. It makes their day. It’s a way to create a positive environment at Gladstone High School.”

Dakota Clark, a sophomore at Gladstone High School, is a mentee in the Brave Buds program. His mentor helps motivate him to get his homework done, and that this program has helped him break out of his shell.

“You can’t be by yourself. You can’t isolate yourself from other people. You have to go out and meet new people and make new friends. It’s just a learning experience.”

Community members and businesses are working together to help provide Brave Buds with a new lounge where the students can have a safe, comfortable space to hang out and do their school work.

Principal Andy Jacques said donations are welcome to help furnish and decorate the lounge. If you’re interested in sending a donation, you can contact Jacques at ajacques@gladstone.k12.mi.us or (906) 789-8314.

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