Mentor Information for College Students

Program Overview

The Physical Activity Mentoring Program for Persons with Disabilities offers college students a meaningful, fun, and convenient community service opportunity.  Physical activity mentors are students from any area of study who are interested in obtaining experiences with children or adults with disabilities.  Knowledge in or previous experiences working with persons with disabilities is not required. Mentors do not need to be skilled in sports or physical activities to be successful in the program. 
 
Program staff prepares college students for safe and meaningful involvement.  Mentors must pass background checks and participate in a training session prior to providing physical activity experiences to their mentees.  Program sessions are 8-weeks in length, with a minimum of two, 1-hour meetings per week with your assigned mentee for physical activity.  Many mentors complete more than one 8-week session, and stay with the same mentee for a year or longer.  Meeting times are very flexible and mutually arranged between the college student and the mentee’s parents.
 
This program Q&A section provides information for physical activity mentors.
 
Why do UW-L students become Physical Activity Mentors?

  • Have fun, meet new people, and be physically active.
  • Teach others to be active and healthy on campus and in the community.
  • Complete volunteer or service learning requirements for academic courses or programs.
  • Learn about the values of physical activity and proper nutrition.
  • Gain valuable hands-on experience working with children and adults with disabilities.
  • Learn about professions involving physical activity, recreation, education, rehabilitation, and disability.
  • Add a unique program to your resume.
  • Experience the La Crosse Community while helping others stay active.

How do I become a Physical Activity Mentor?

  • Complete and submit your mentor application.  Mentors are assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis.
  • Attend a training session (after your application is processed by program staff). Attendance at a training session is required.
  • Pass background checks as part of the mentor application process (completed by program staff).
  • Meet with program staff and parents/guardians of your assigned mentee.

What are the requirements for mentors?

  • Minimum of two hours a week for 8 consecutive weeks (many mentors continue longer).
  • Possess current First Aid and CPR certifications (training is provided at a minimal cost for mentors).
  • Carry a cell phone while in the program.
  • Complete pre-program survey and final evaluations.
  • Have fun, be reliable, and provide a valuable friendship to your mentee.

Can I earn academic credit or complete course requirements by being a mentor?

  • No, academic credit is not offered at this time. However, many UW-L students fulfill course requirements through the mentoring program such as clinical or volunteer hours, service learning, and community service.
  • The program is also often used by students as the topic for course papers, speeches, independent studies, and other requirements.
  • Community service is a valuable addition to your resume.

Do I need previous experience working with persons with disabilities?

  • No, program staff prepares mentors with needed knowledge and information about teaching activities.
  • The program has books, DVDs, teaching videos, equipment, and other materials to assist mentors.
  • Staff meets/consults with mentors to provide physical activity suggestions.
  • Mentors meet with parents/guardians to assist with goals and activities.
  • Mentors can contact the mentees teachers, counselors, and others for assistance.
  • Mentees can be observed at their school sites.

How do I get matched up with my mentee?

  • Staff reviews your application for background, experiences, and other factors.
  • Available mentee applications are reviewed to determine best matches to achieve program goals.
  • Mentor/mentee matches are reviewed on an on-going basis to ensure success.
  • Program staff initiates and facilitates meetings to introduce mentor, mentee, and parents/guardians.

What types of physical activity can I do in the program?

  • Activities depend on interest, ability, age, and goals for each mentee.
  • Indoor and/or outdoor activities are included.
  • Range of physical activities allowed is very broad, but individually focused.
  • Basic motor skills such as catching, throwing, kicking, and batting can be practiced.
  • Skills for sports are practiced – soccer, basketball, t-ball, football, bowling, etc.
  • Swimming, biking, hiking, exploring playground equipment, and skating.
  • Outdoor winter activities could include snowshoeing, sledding, and cross-country skiing.
  • To the greatest extend possible, community-based activities are practiced.
  • Physical activity possibilities are numerous and varied.

What equipment is available and how do I get it?

  • The program provides most physical activity equipment for mentors (examples of which can be found here).
  • Staff and mentors communicate to determine equipment needs and availability.
  • Mentors contact program staff to reserve, obtain, and return equipment.
  • Parents may have equipment for some activities.
  • Some equipment is obtained at physical activity sites (i.e., bowling or roller skates).

Where can physical activities take place?

  • On campus: Eagle REC Center, Mitchell Hall, and Wittich Hall (persons must be 7 years or older to use EAGLE REC Center).
  • Mentors must plan with program staff for on-campus facility use.
  • Off-campus sites include indoor and outdoor facilities.
  • YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs, roller skating, and bowling facilities.
  • Outdoor parks, biking/walking/running/hiking trails, courts, and outdoor pools in La Crosse.
  • All physical activity sites must be approved by program staff.
  • Mentee homes and neighborhoods are often used for activities.

What are group wellness/physical activity outings?

  • Group wellness activities take place every 2-3 weeks.
  • Group wellness outings are organized by program staff.
  • Wellness outings bring many mentors/mentees together for activity.
  • Group outings include hiking, sledding, rock wall/ropes course, fishing, swimming, etc.
  • Wellness outings are scheduled far in advance, and usually take place on weekends.
  • Parents will sometimes participate in group wellness outings.

Who provides transportation for this program?

  • Parents/guardians transport mentees to physical activity sites.
  • College student mentors may travel a maximum of 10 miles to meet mentees at their homes.
  • College student mentors are NOT allowed to transport mentees in any program activity.  Insurance regulations do not permit us to allow this.
  • Mentors can meet mentees at their homes or physical activity sites.
  • Mentors and mentees could bike or walk to activity sites.

Who do I contact with questions about the mentoring program? 

  • Program Office – 108 Mitchell Hall on the UW-La Crosse campus
    Center on Disability Health and Adapted Physical Activity                                    
  • Holly Feldman and Blake Dole, Physical Activity Mentoring Program Coordinators (785-8695; mentorprogram@uwlax.edu)
  • Dr. Garth Tymeson, Program Director (785-5415; gtymeson@uwlax.edu)