In my many years living in Whistler, I have had the opportunity to be involved with many local organizations. I have just completed my first year running the Big Brothers Big Sisters division and I can say with confidence that mentors are making a difference in children's lives. Often I get ask ed if Whistler is a place that needs a program like Big Brothers Big Sisters. My answer is always yes. Our goal as an organization is "to put a mentor in the life of every child who needs one." Whistler is a small community and the positive actions by few can make a large difference overall.
In Whistler, we work with schools and recruit mentors to spend one hour a week with a child on school grounds, during school hours. Meeting throughout the school year, matched mentors and mentees participate in non-academic activities like board games, sports and crafts.
Our in-school programs are offered to both high school students and adults. Once a week about 25 teenagers in Grades 9 to 12 from Whistler Secondary head to Spring Creek Elementary to spend time with their Little Buddies. Adult mentors work with teachers and the school to find a day and time that suits everyone's busy schedules.
Making matches based on similar interests and personalities, we strive to make lasting friendships that can build over time.
We ask for a commitment of one school year, but have found that many mentors stick with the program for several. In fact, some amazing teens have participated each year from Grade 9 through 12, a testament to the nature of our community.
Teachers recommend children to the program for a number of reasons. Children accepted into the program often struggle with challenges such as making friends, communicating or focusing in the classroom. Some just need a little bit of extra attention on a consistent basis from an adult.
Children really enjoy the time they spend with their mentors. I often hear them say "it's awesome" and "can I be in the program again next year?"
Studies indicate children with mentors realize many positive outcomes as a result of the Big Brothers Big Sisters programs. They typically develop better self-esteem, have better relationships with adults and are less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol as teens and adults.
The program is also rewarding for mentors.
"Spending time with my Little Buddy gives me a new perspective on life," explains one mentor. They play games together, make Lego objects, play sports like one-on-one hockey, bake cookies and take on creative projects such as stuffed animal creations and scrapbooking.
I encourage anyone interested in the program to visit www.beamentorseatosky.com .
This monthly column is produced by Pique Newsmagazine and Mountain Youth Society, and is written by youth, for youth.
Mountain Youth Society (MYS) promotes and fosters the positive growth and development of youth age 13 to 35 through the programs and services of their member organizations. Public meetings with guest speakers are held the second Tuesday of each month at Whistler Public Library's Community Room from 3:30-4:30 p.m. NEXT MEETING: Tuesday, August 9. If you're interested in writing an article, contact us at email@example.com.