Dec 11, 2014
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Teaching young people proper etiquette at the dinner table can help prepare them for success.

That’s the reasoning behind why Richmond Police Activities League students were enrolled in a 6-week series on etiquette presented by “The School of Etiquette and Decorum in Northern California.”

On Wednesday, about 30 kids between ages 11 and 15 who took the initiative and completed the course will be treated to a fine dining experience at the Hotel Mac restaurant in Point Richmond, where they will show off their new etiquette skills. As the kids are from low-income families or foster care, it is likely their first upscale restaurant experience.

“The [Hotel Mac] owner has generously agreed to host and fund the dinner as a result of [the kids’] commitment,” said Brenda McCuistion, RPAL program manager.

“The School of Etiquette and Decorum,” founded by Tina Hayes of Antioch, offers teens trainings on proper handshakes, appearance, good sportsmanship and even how to make direct eye contact.  Mastering such skills builds self-confidence and fosters respect for others, the school says. The Richmond program is funded by the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

“To me, it helps them to navigate through their life to achieve academic success and personal growth,” McCuistion said. “Knowing what to say and when to say it in social and public settings is crucial.”

Often, children living with single parents or in foster care are not exposed to role models who can impart such skills, the program manager added.

Three years ago, RPAL, which has offered group mentoring services for kids for many years, began offering one-on-one mentoring, which has proven successful, McCuistion said. Fifty-three kids are now working one-on-one with mentors, participating in a number of activities meant to strengthen their relationships with their mentors and ultimately prepare them for college and careers. One activity challenged the kids to develop a business plan to develop skills such as money management, McCuistion said.


About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.