Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) is a familiar organization, providing mentoring programs for children and youth in communities across the province. In Saskatoon, BBBS has matched children to mentors for more than 45 years, changing lives by bringing people together. “All it takes is one caring, significant adult in the life of a child to transition that child to healthy adulthood,” says Kim Megyesi, executive director for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Saskatoon. “A mentor can change everything for a child. It’s that simple.”
So, what is mentoring? For BBBS, it’s defined as “the presence of a caring individual who provides a young person with support, advice, friendship and constructive role modeling over time.” Mentoring relationships help break the cycles of poverty, addiction and violence by demonstrating healthy life choices, encouraging education and engaging positively with society. And, all it takes is a commitment of a few hours a month to make that significant change for a young person, and for the community as a whole. That’s it.
A Success Story
Sam* recently moved to Canada from an African country. He was referred to BBBS by his school, because they found he was being left out, experiencing bullying, and not forming friendships. His first language is not English, and he has learning disabilities that mean it takes him time to speak and process conversation. Sam also has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to abuse from his father, which causes him high anxiety levels related to leaving his house.
Sam has been matched with his big brother Ryan* for almost 2 years. Sam’s mother has told BBBS that she has seen Sam come out of his shell and is beginning to feel a sense of belonging as his connection with Ryan has grown. Sam and Ryan try to leave the house regularly, and Sam is beginning to engage with peers at school and group activities. And, Sam says he feels safe and can talk to Ryan about anything.
*Names have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants.
BBBS is always looking for mentors to join, especially for boys. Boys can wait two to three years for a mentor, whereas girls wait just three to six months. “If you’re a male 18 or over with a few hours a month to spare or know someone who might be, consider mentoring or send them our way,” says Megyesi. “Boys in our community need support.” It doesn’t matter what job or education you have, or if you have had a challenged childhood yourself. BBBS looks for mentors from all walks of life, including those with lived experiences. “Our mentors have many different backgrounds, and our youth often relate well to those that have had childhoods like their own, and have come out on the other side as healthy adults,” says Megyesi.
If time is not something you have to give, monetary donations are always gratefully accepted. It costs $1,500 to recruit, screen, train, match and support every relationship for one year, and your company can also become a Corporate Partner. Donations also have a fantastic return on investment. Not only does it change the life of a child, every $1.00 invested in mentoring by Big Brothers Big Sisters returns $23.00 to society. To learn more on how you or your organization can help BBBS make a difference, visit saskatoon.bigbrothersbigsisters.ca.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Saskatoon
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