U students connect with youths in Y Buddies

Each week University students and roommates Lauren Buell and Kristin Linforth spend time with a pair of best friends half their age. Buell and Linforth, Big Buddies to Ka Xiong, 13, and Maikia Vang, 10, are part of the University YMCA’s Y Buddies program.

Every year the program matches more than 120 college students with third-grade through fifth-grade students from Minneapolis-area schools. Big Buddies and Little Buddies meet weekly throughout the school year to hang out together or participate in large group activities.

School social workers choose youths to participate in the program for reasons including behavioral problems and being one of many siblings.

Buell, a child psychology and family social science junior, began participating in the Y Buddies program her sophomore year. Linforth, a speech-language-hearing sciences junior, became a Y Buddy after a previous roommate participated.

Linforth said of the program, “You get out of it what you put in.”

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