MENTORING MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE
We believe that there are three areas in which a Big Brother or Big Sister can have an impact on a child. They are competence, confidence, and caring. Through a 1995 study done by Public/Private Ventures, Inc. it was proven that children who are matched with a Big Brother or Big Sister are:
- 46% less likely to start using drugs
- 27% less likely to start using alcohol
- 52% less likely to skip a day of school
- 33% less likely to engage in violent behavior
In addition, participants have shown marked academic improvement, improved attitudes toward school, and better relationships both at home and at school.
Big Brothers Big Sisters provides mentoring services through two programs: the community-based program, and the school-based program.
The community-based program matches volunteers from all walks of life with children ages 6 – 13. Every ‘Big’ must go through a screening process. Although thorough, the process is made quick and convenient for the volunteer. Volunteers are interviewed by BBBS professional staff to get as much information as possible. Children and families, too, are assessed to guarantee the best possible match. Matches are made based on similar interests, personality, background, and geographic location. Professional staff are looking for strengths in a volunteer that will complement the needs of the child. Once a match is made, the ‘Big’ and ‘Little’ spend time doing activities within the community that they both enjoy. They usually spend about 4 – 6 hours per month playing sports, gardening, playing board games, going to movies, or just talking. It is the power of that friendship that becomes a vehicle for change.
The school-based program matches classes of high school students with classes of elementary school students, or adult volunteers from local businesses and organizations with elementary students, on a one-to-one basis in the school setting. More structured than the community based program, the school-based program uses academics as the vehicle to start the relationship and interactive activities to build that friendship. At the end of the school year, successful matches have the option of moving into the community-based program and seeing each other outside of the school setting, or ending the relationship until the next school year. Results have been phenomenal!
As with the community-based program, volunteers in the school-based program must also go through screening and training prior to being matched with a child. They are matched on the same basis – common interests, strengths of the volunteer, needs of the child.
On-going support is provided through Big Brothers Big Sisters professional staff. Each match is assigned to a Program Coordinator who will remain in touch with the match throughout its lifetime. The match may continue until the child no longer needs the services, or the child turns 18 years of age.