Ducks raising bucks for Big Brothers/Sisters By Oona Woods The big duck race in support of Pemberton/Whistler’s Big Brothers Big Sisters will take place in Fitzsimmons Creek on Thanksgiving Monday, Oct. 12 at 1 p.m. The grand prize winner of the event will be able to take a friend for a week’s holiday in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Other winners will go away clutching gift certificates for restaurants, stores and hotels throughout town. Buying a ticket will get you sole proprietorship over a little yellow plastic duck in this the seventh year of the annual event. All of the ducks will be placed in the river upstream from Fitzsimmons Creek bridge. If your duck crosses the finish line ahead of the rest you’ll take home the prize. Spokeswoman for BBBS foundation Natalie Andrès says that so far duck speculation has been brisk. "We’ve sold 2,000 tickets already. There are 2,800 ducks altogether so that leaves another 800. We’re doing quite well." All of the thoroughbred ducks have been flown in from Alberta to compete in this race. Tickets are $5 each or $12 for three. "All of the money raised goes directly towards agency support matches, group activities, match activities, Halloween activities and Christmas," says Andrès. The Big Brothers and Big Sisters program was founded to provide one on one matching of a "Little" and a "Big." The basis of the relationship is a gift of time, mentoring and friendship shared between an adult and a child, with positive use of leisure time. "The adult acts as a role model, one on one. They hang out for one hour or up to four hours a week, go to a movie, play basketball, sit and talk, anything based on a mutual interests." Andrès points out that the program is not any kind of baby-sitting venture, nor is it a counselling program. "The program’s not meant for troubled or disturbed children. It’s not about discipline either. Just a healthy relationship. When kids are growing up there are always harder periods. The ‘Bigs’ can say ‘I remember when I felt the same way... I did this.’ "They are not there to replace parents’ discipline, they help guide as a role model. There are always things kids don’t want to talk to their parents about. If they are older they can talk about girls and boys, or about the kid who teases them at school, or about the great grades they got." The program matches "Bigs" and "Littles" very carefully, taking into account sports interests and hobbies. Potential "Bigs" go through four or five hours of interviews and screening by the RCMP before they are taken on board for the program. In Whistler there is a greater percentage of "Bigs" lining up to take part than anywhere else in Canada, let alone B.C. "We have less trouble finding ‘Bigs’ here than anywhere else. I think it’s because so many people here are far away from home and their families. They want to have someone they can call their little brother or little sister." Andrès says the benefits of the program go both ways. "The Big Brothers Big Sisters agency released these figures: 76 per cent of all the ‘Littles’ have improved grades. Not necessarily because of tutoring, although people can do that if they want to. It’s because they act as a healthy role model. Sixty-six per cent have a better sense of right and wrong. Eighty per cent have better attendance in school and 82 per cent report a better relationship with their teachers. Ninety-one per cent feel better about themselves and 41 per cent are less likely to use drugs. I think that is quite an important one, especially in Whistler."