The Binghamton City School Districts’ new after-school program looks to decrease aggressive behavior through sports and academics.
Preventing Long-Term Anger and Aggression in Youth or PLAAY Program, works to teach students valuable coping skills and in-the-moment stress management strategies.
Various teachers and coaches help mentor upper-class high school students, who then, in turn, mentor younger students.
The mentees are primarily made up of 6th graders from East and West Middle Schools.
The mentors help the younger students with their homework and take part in various sports and other physical training.
Head Football Coach Mike Ramil, who serves as one of the program’s instructors, says they try to translate lessons that can be taught through sports to real-life situations. “The idea is if you can get a kid to understand that if you curse or go after someone on the football field then you’ll get a 15-yard penalty and it’ll hurt the team. If you can get kids to understand that and avoid that on the football field then there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be able to do that in life too.”
Along with the homework and sports help, instructors and mentors hold sessions where they talk with the younger kids about what bothers them.
Amya Ryan and Justin Masso are both seniors and mentors for the PLAAY Program.
They say working with their mentees is also beneficial for them.
Amya Ryan Student Mentor says, “I’m learning from them too. When they tell me things, it gives me a better understanding of how they think that way I can work with them and adapt to how they react to certain things.”
Justin Masso Student Mentor says, “I’m really glad I was selected for this it’s helped me. I’m glad that I’m able to help kids that I don’t even know, it’s been a great experience.”
The PLAAY program was developed by Howard Stevenson at Penn University.
The Binghamton School District is being used as a model for the program after becoming one of the first schools to successfully implement it.
Ramil says due to the positive results and high demand from parents, the program will be expanding to add more students from more schools in the district in the coming years.