LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A book in the hands of students is just the start of what a dozen high schoolers are prepared to give kids at Chicot and Mabelvale Elementaries. Friday, a mentoring program began for the two Little Rock School District elementary schools.

Little Rock Southwest juniors and seniors are hoping to be the positive impact kids need, committing to events through next school year.

Janiya Carter is one of the seniors that feels mentoring these first graders could give them the tools to write their best stories.

“The main thing that I want them to know is that you can be a leader anywhere, you can spread positivity anywhere,” Carter said.

12 students were recommended by their teachers to grow into leaders through the Chick-fil-A leadership Academy.

Other students this school year are James Gray-Brooks, Kalleigh Henderson, Mia Jones, Juan Lopez-Estrada, Dmarion Rose, Kylan Rooks, Kayla Sanchez, Toni Simmons, Kyla Smith, Jayde Wallace, and Ginger West. LRSW speech language pathologist Kami Rowland and teacher William Nance are co-sponsors.

One of the Chick-fil-A Leadership Academy pillars is “Impact through Action”, but in the past few years became more difficult.

“COVID really put a halt on a lot of community projects,” Rowland added. “One of the things was the mentorship piece.”

Friday the academy showed they are ready to turn the page by giving five books to first graders. Students with program will be meeting elementary students every other month in the 2023-2024 school year. It’s all possible through a $1500 grant they applied for and awarded through the national Chick-fil-A Academy program.

And by the end of their shared story, these high schoolers hope each kid will be able to read easily the care on their faces.

“As teenagers especially, it’s so easy to get caught up in the negative, so if you’re constantly seeing positive, I feel it’s going to be more possible to move in that direction,” Carter said. “When I was in elementary school I loved when the seniors came to our school because it gave me someone to look up to.”

Rowland said grant ideas like the mentoring program come directly from students, and last week Southwest High was approved for another grant to host an event for a third elementary school.