As John Fehsal, a student at Elkhorn Middle School, takes aim at the cue ball, his mentor, Marcus Sims, tells him where to shoot.
That directing hand also guides John in the game of life.
"He just needs to go in the right direction," Sims, a senior at Kentucky State University, said about John, whom he refers to as a "mentee."
"He just needs someone to guide him."
The pair played pool and air hockey while hanging out together at a mentoring activity held at KSU May 1.
Sims and John participate in the Children of Greatest Need mentoring program, one of two run by KSU.
Children in Greatest Need focuses on 4th to 8th graders with academic or behavioral problems. It's open to students from Franklin County or Frankfort Independent Schools, said director Susan Boyer.
Children of Promise, KSU's other mentoring program, is designed for children with parents in prison. Children of Promise covers Franklin, Scott and Anderson counties, said program director Malaika Williams.
The mentoring programs are funded by a federal grant from the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, a branch of the U.S. Department of Education, said Dr. Herman Walston, who applied for the grant.
"(KSU is) an excellent place for these types of programs because you've got mentors right here on campus," Walston said. "It gives students the chance to bring about change in the community and shape the lives of young men and women."
Williams said there are several reasons why her mentoring program is needed.
"We saw the need, because of the rate of incarceration and the things going on in schools, to find a positive alternative," Williams said. "Children of incarcerated parents are seven times more likely to end up in the justice system themselves."
The Children of Promise program has 25 mentors enrolled, with 18 of those already matched with a child in need, Williams said.
KSU marketing major Charles Jackson mentors twins Joseph and Dwayne Wainscott, students at Bondurant Middle School.
Jackson said he joined the Children of Promise program to provide kids with the male mentor he never had growing up.
"I hope to be a positive male figure in their lives," Jackson said. "Things that they see me do that are positive, they can heed that so they can have a man's perspective."
The trio meets at least once a week to discuss everyday problems the twins have, Jackson said. They tell Jackson their problems and he gives them alternative solutions to the actions they've taken.
"I see them making progress, they've said it's really fun and they've enjoyed themselves," Jackson said.
Sims and John spend their afternoons playing baseball, a common interest the two share, Sims said.
"I teach him the fundamentals and we talk about life in general and how important good grades are," Sims said. "I try to have conversations with him that he's scared to have with his parents."
Sims is one of 21 mentors currently matched with a local students. The mentors sign a one-year commitment and are required to spend at least one hour per week with their students.
The relationship doesn't stop over the summer, when many KSU students travel home, Boyer said. Instead, the pairs communicate through e-mails and phone calls.
"We keep in contact," Sims said. "I have him working on some goals (over the summer.)"
John's goals include reading books and working on his anger and respect levels, Sims said. Sims also keeps in touch with John's mother to insure he's completing his goals.
Students in the program also take part in group activities throughout the summer with educational, social or cultural significance, Williams said.
The funding for these programs, which runs through 2010, is a start, Williams said.
"We want the community to be involved and take a stake in the program so that when or if we don't receive funding those community partners can still grow the program and have it continue," she said.
Williams said the programs are still in need of male mentors and mentoring positions are open to anyone in the community. For more information on either program, contact Williams at 597-6184 or Boyer at 597-5061.