The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

June 18, 2013

Program proves successful

3 more boys need mentors

ATTICA, Ind. — Adam McHone recently graduated from Attica High School, but his journey to this point has not been an easy one.

During his elementary school years, Adam struggled and his grades were poor.

“I needed an attitude adjustment,” Adam said.

He and his family moved from Covington to Attica in 2005 and in seventh grade Adam was tested and diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, also called Asperger’s disorder, a type of pervasive developmental disorder — a group of conditions that involve delays in the development of many basic skills, most notably the ability to socialize with others, to communicate, and to use imagination.

During this time, Adam became involved with the Fountain County Mentoring program. Adam was matched with Mark Mason, now a retired fifth- grade school teacher.

“I knew there was a need for mentoring in the community because of my work as a teacher,” Mason said.

Through the mentoring relationship that developed, Adam learned proper social behaviors and overcame his fear of speaking. Adam had few social outlets outside of school and struggled socially with his peers. Adam and Mark developed a trusting relationship that provided opportunities to share positive and negative things that Adam experienced during the five-year period they have been involved with the Fountain County Mentoring Program.

Both Mark and Adam agree that one of the strengths of their relationship is that they are comfortable with each other since both are quiet individuals.

When asked what the best thing about their relationship is, Adam responded, “Mark is someone I can talk to other than my peers or my parents, he’s my sounding board. We trust each other. He has also been a source of encouragement for me. He enabled me to take an art class in Lafayette by encouraging me to get involved and providing transportation. He gave me the opportunity to share my musical interest by listening and encouraging me to play the piano. Through these experiences, I gained confidence in my own abilities.”

Adam has needed extra help during the years with several things but is now able to do more without help. “I’m proud of myself,” Adam said.

Adam’s mother, Renee Albea, indicated the changes she has seen in her son as a result of the mentoring relationship have helped his relationship with his step-dad.

“We have a blended family, and Adam was the middle child which can be difficult. Mark filled a void for Adam during this time,” she said.

Adam has plans to attend Ivy Tech to pursue business. He has lots of hobbies including photography, art, technology, piano and a passionate interest in trains.

“Mark and I went on my first passenger train ride to Chicago and have gone on several others since. We go to model train shows, museums, anything related to trains,” Adam said.

Mason indicated Adam has taught him more than he ever imagined about trains.

When asked how mentoring has helped him to prepare for the future, Adam said, “It’s a memory book I can reflect back on about my overall journey and to see how I have changed. I hope to help someone else overcome some of the same challenges I did.”

While their formal mentoring relationship has come to an end, Mark and Adam will continue to stay in touch. They agree that they are lifelong friends.

The Fountain County Mentoring Program is in need of adult male mentors. It has three boys that need a strong male role model in their lives.

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