Connecting Hearts

“It was incredible to watch the younger kids finally open up and trust their mentors.”

- Anisa Ryan

Background Info

Anisa Ryan grew up in McCall, ID, and has recently moved to Redmond, WA to finish her final year of high school. Being raised in McCall for nearly 12 years, she noticed the social and academic struggles of foster care students in her school. These kids are not only moving homes very frequently, but also schools. After her semester at the Alzar School, Anisa came back to her home community of McCall with hopes that she could create a program to help these foster students with their personal and academic lives. Her goal through connecting hearts is to connect kids from different socioeconomic backgrounds through mentorship, tutoring, and love.

“When the kids all got out of the car, my heart honestly felt like it was melting because all the kids were so adorable. I was very excited to spend time with them all.”
– Anisa Ryan

Implementation of Project

Anisa and her action team paired with the Shepherd’s Home in McCall during the beginning of the summer of 2016. The head of the home, Traci Jamieson, was ecstatic about Anisa’s CLP, and wanted to get it moving as soon as possible. On the main action day that kick started Connecting Hearts, Anisa and her action team took the group of foster kids to the park for a fun day by the lake. Each younger kid was paired with an older, high school student for the day. Some of the younger kids were shy and didn’t want to open up to their big buddy. Anisa’s action team didn’t quit though. They played at the park, ate lunch together, and talked while skipping rocks.  The mentors will continue to meet with the children weekly throughout the school year.

“It was incredible to watch the younger kids finally open up and trust their mentors.”
– Anisa Ryan

Results of Project

Connecting Hearts was a huge success.  It brought nothing but joy to everyone involved. By the end of the day, each of the kids had a smile on their face and were excited for their next visit from their big buddy. One of the little boys was even crying by the end of the day because him and his big buddy, Josh Rohnert, connected so well. Traci was very excited about the outcome of the project. She stated, “the kids felt excited and special to have people come and hang out with them and take them places.” Even though the action day was only a single day for now, Anisa still sees it as a great success. Each week following the initial action day, her action team will visit the Shepherd’s home to spend time with and mentor the kids. Traci, Anisa, and her action team are planning to create a club at the local high school to promote the project, as well. The action team consisted of 9 high school students, with 7 foster kids participating, making the action day very successful. Later that day, Anisa received multiple messages from different high school students that heard about the project, asking to help in the future.

“I think the positive mentorship is something that will benefit them for the rest of their lives because most of these kids come from homes where they don’t have that.”
– Anisa Ryan

What’s Next?

Anisa will graduate from Redmond High School in June 2017 and hopes to play college hockey in New England. She is also going to find underclassmen in McCall to continue Connecting Hearts. She hopes that this positive role model for the kids will benefit them and their futures leading in the community.