February 22, 2024

Achiever Spotlight: Mario

Our monthly Achiever Spotlight highlights current and alumni Achievers. For current Achievers, we look at how the Friends-Boston program is impacting them today. For alumni, we see the role the program played in helping them to find success after they graduated. Their stories are part of our story, and we're excited to share them.

This month, we're highlighting a current Achiever: Mario*.


Mario* just turned seven years old, and he's looking forward to celebrating with his friends in our Elementary Cohort at this February's Break Ice Skating Activity.

Mario is a first grader at our partner school in East Boston, along with his caring older sister, and eventually his curious baby brother in a few years.

His family is originally from El Salvador, but they've called Boston home for all of Mario's life.

At first, Mario's mom was concerned with his emotion regulation. He'd bottle up feelings when he wouldn't understand something, especially back in kindergarten when he was still learning English. He would then overcompensate and be too friendly with his peers, sometimes tickling them without asking them first.

Over these past eight months of spending time with his Friend, Paula, Mario has grown significantly. He keeps his hands to himself and asks his friends before approaching them. He's practiced self-advocacy by finding his own way of asking for help and expressing his needs.

Mario has reflected on how much he's improved during car rides home, as he shares how proud he is of himself for behaving well and getting along better with his peers.

His confidence has also skyrocketed since he started tackling math word problems with Paula. They've discovered his passion for numbers and thinking math problems out. He's now a leader among his peers with his voluntary math practice, and he encourages his friends to practice with him.

Paula can't wait to see how he combines his love of art and math together, as he grows up to be a great problem solver.

*Name changed