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Nominate young mentors for an “I Do What I Can” Award by Jan. 22

Mandy Fields Yokim
January20/ 2016

The deadline is quickly approaching to nominate a local kid with a reputation for helping out other children. A  new program that spotlights young mentors in first through sixth grades will accept nominations for the “I Do What I Can Award” through Jan. 22.

“I Do What I Can” is an initiative of WQED and The Fred Rogers Company in collaboration with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Mentoring Partnership of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Adults including parents, grandparents, teachers and coaches can nominate a child for an “I Do What I Can” Award online at www.idowhatican.org. A community advisory committee will review all nominations and every eligible nominee will be recognized in some way. Nominees with especially inspiring stories may be featured online or on-air.

The awards are inspired by the words ‘I do what I can’ spoken by Ramone, a character in the PBS KIDS’ series PEG + CAT.

“Ramone is an older friend who always shows up to calm Peg down and help her solve a problem. He inspires Peg and Cat because he always knows what to say to help them and set them on the right path,” says Suzanne Masri, director of marketing and communications for The Fred Rogers Company.

Peg and Cat attend the Mentoring Pittsburgh Gala. Photo: The Fred Rogers Company.
Peg and Cat attend the Mentoring Pittsburgh Gala. Photo: The Fred Rogers Company.

PEG + CAT is a four-time Emmy Award-winning show for preschoolers that focuses on math and problem-solving abilities. “They always have a problem and they use math to solve it. Peg shows that math is fun, math is everywhere and she helps to demystify the idea that math is hard,” says Masri.

In fact, both children and parents benefit from watching the show, according to a five-year research study commissioned by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the PBS Ready To Learn initiative. Not only did children in the study show improvement in critical math areas, their parents also gained confidence. “PEG + CAT is moving the needle for parents to be more comfortable working on math concepts with their kids,” says Masri.

In addition to its successful math focus, the new season of the show, premiering March 28, will incorporate more content that emphasizes the mentoring aspects of Ramone and other characters. The Fred Rogers Company will attend the National Mentoring Summit this spring where Masri will share a toolkit for mentoring organizations that includes clips from PEG + CAT.

Mandy Fields Yokim

Mandy Fields Yokim is a nationally published writer and editor based in the Pittsburgh area. Her work has appeared in Parents Magazine, Blue Ridge Country Magazine, NEXTpittsburgh, Kidsburgh, TEQ Magazine, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and nearly 20 parenting publications across the United States and Canada. Her blog posts have appeared online at Pittsburgh Magazine, Kid World Citizen and Wonderaddo, the global education initiative she founded in 2013 to encourage kids and families to explore the world in Pittsburgh. She is contributing editor of regional books such as Grit, Smoke and Steam, Ultimate Pittsburgh Trivia and Bridges of Pittsburgh.