(Vaughan) - An after-school program that makes students enjoy homework?
That's the goal of the Thornhill Student Exchange, a community enrichment and tutoring program pairing volunteer high school students with elementary pupils for once-a-week tutoring, sports and social activities.
It's aimed primarily at Jews and is done in a Jewish environment, but anyone can participate.
Cameron Roll, a Grade 5 student at Associated Hebrew Schools in Thornhill, likes the 45-minute homework and social segments equally.
"I had a great mentor last year who helped me with my homework and then we joined the other kids and had fun at the social programs," he explained.
Tilda Roll, Cameron's mother, is impressed by the impact the program has had on her son.
"The program has exceeded my expectations," she explained. "The organizers matched the criteria of the students and mentors very well. It was really inspiring for me to watch Cameron get excited about going each week."
The program, which is in its second year, is overseen by an advisory board that includes rabbis, teachers, social workers and psychologists.
High school volunteers undergo a one-month training leadership and mentoring course before being assigned to children.
"There really is much to gain from the program and I take great pride in being one of the original participants," said Julian Smith, a Grade 10 student at Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto.
"As a mentor, I learned how to interact with children and developed relationship skills I never had before."
The program, which runs with the school calendar, has 70 participants and students can sign up for it any time.
The fee is $200 for the year and subsidies are available depending on the circumstances.
"The program has been an unparalleled success," program co-ordinator Rabbi Shmuli Nachlas, 29, said.
"The community has embraced it and it turned out to be spectacular. It's unique because kids are actually enjoying homework, which is a miracle on its own."
Not only were many relationships developed over the past year, there was also a great amount of learning and character development among children and mentors, he explained.
The program is offered by Thornhill's Chabad @ Flamingo at 8001 Bathurst St. Mondays from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
For more information or to participate, call 905-763-4040 or visit www. chabadflamingo.com