SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — Children in foster care are getting the chance to learn a new hobby: fly fishing.
It's part of a free program that pairs a child with a safe mentor who also teaches them life skills.
"I'm hoping these kids can just step out of their normal routine, have some fun, experience nature, and just relax and be a kid for a little while," said Tyler Kunz, the co-lead mentor for The Mayfly Project.
The Mayfly Project has chapters nationwide, including in Salt Lake City. There is also a chapter in England.
Mentors say the program is about much more than fishing.
"It's about building confidence, self-esteem, giving them some success," said Kelly Mattingly, the lead mentor who heads up the Salt Lake City chapter.
The program is for any child in the foster care system between the ages of 8 to 18.
"We want to reach out to case workers, foster parents, therapists--anyone that is interested in this experience to apply," said Mattingly.
For the program, kids go fishing with their mentors every other week for 5 weeks.
Mentors get training and go through background checks to make sure they are safe to work with the kids.
"It's just an opportunity to give them a positive relationship, someone that's there every time," Mattingly said.
At the end of the program, kids get their own gear so they can keep fishing, including a rod and pack with flies and more.
Mattingly says there is nothing like helping a child catch their first fish.
"They literally just light up," she said.
The Salt Lake program started about 4 years ago but hasn't been able to operate some years due to COVID-19. They've had about 15 kids through the program so far.
The next session starts in August and families can start registering now.
Donations help keep the program running, so Mountain America Credit Union donated $500 to The Mayfly Project.
If you want to donate or register a child, visit The Mayfly Project website. They are hoping to reach as many kids as possible and also recruit some mentors for the program.
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