Big Brothers Big Sisters is a volunteer youth mentoring program for children who need adult role models and support. The organization works on the belief that relationships, guidance and friendship with a positive role model help to strengthen the lives of young people which in turn benefits their community. Big Brothers Big Sisters is a platform for young people who desire friendship and guidance that helps them to adjust into the society. This program is the largest provider of mentoring services to young children internationally and has been working in Australia since 1982.
The vision that Big Brothers Big Sisters uphold is that friendship, relationship and guidance from a role model helps to strengthen the life of a young person who longs for acceptance in the society.
The impact of this vision on the young people is that it helps to unlock their potential and polishes their talents which benefit the individual and their community alike. Time and guidance are the best things that one can offer a child who wishes to grow up to be a positive role model for other children.
How Does the Program Work?
Big Brothers Big Sisters Australia is a volunteer youth mentoring program that provides professional guidance and support to young people who lack adult role models. Under this program, specific activities are designed for the youth that helps them to develop a supportive and healthy friendship. Qualified volunteers are hired to match the bonding needs of a young person. The young people and their mentors are named ‘Bigs’ and ‘Littles’ who spend quality time together preferably on weekends to do activities that they enjoy. This helps the young people who face adversity in the community to utilize their time productively and prevents them from engaging in unhealthy activities. By bringing a positive change in the course of a young person’s life, we aim to develop in them a sense of strength, resilience and self worth that they previously lacked. This helps to improve and flourish their relationships with their families and community. This positive outlook is beneficial for the community in the long run.
The concept of Big Brothers Big Sisters is based on the power and simplicity of positive friendships. All young people at a certain age want to feel valued and accepted in the community, and unfortunately it is that time that most of them are usually neglected. And hence they indulge in unhealthy activities that not only harm their outlook but also have a negative effect on the community they live in. At this time of sensitivity and change, they develop a need to have an objective friend with whom they can spend quality time and beneficial talk that gives them a sense of value and makes them feel worthy.
What Does the Program Offer?
The program offers a wide variety of activities that the Bigs and Littles can indulge in to make their time useful and productive. The match of the young person with his/her mentor is developed after considerable study as to what does a particular young person needs and require. The activities are designed in such a way that assists each match to develop a healthy friendship. The activities include a picnic, a game of football or cricket, board games, mountain bike riding, watching a movie, a day trip to country side, coastal drive or inventing a recipe in the kitchen and generally having fun. The volunteers hired for mentoring are carefully recruited and matched to a young person to establish a supportive connection. The young people require permission from their parent or guardian to take part in the program activities.
The Big Brothers Big Sisters has been working successfully for over thirty years in Australia. It is proud of itself for providing each match quality support, supervision, guidance and resources. It is cost effective since it hires volunteers for mentoring from within the community. It is self-empowering and proactive and provide support to all the matches. It offers long term approach and commitment to young people. It creates matches by employing professional screening procedure for the benefit of young people and the community. All the young people enrolled in the program are willing to spend time with their mentors and create meaningful friendships.
Big Brothers Big Sisters has proven itself to be a successful program for mentoring the young people who feel adversity in the society. It has gained short and long term positive effects for the young people and the community alike. A study on the program revealed that young people who have an adult mentor for support and guidance are less likely to indulge in unhealthy activities like drugs and alcohol. They established better relationships with their parents and friends; moreover they performed well in schools. It prevents young people from developing anti-social behavior, which usually children at this age are very much prone to maintaining. It is an effective crime prevention program that aims to raise children who are sound in the mind and benefit the community in the long run. Young people who are given proper guidance and attention at the ages of 7 to 17 earn higher incomes and counter unemployment. This mentoring improves self confidence, creates strong decision making ability and ensures long term life satisfaction.
The benefit however extends both ways, the people who volunteer for mentoring are exposed to extreme learning themselves. They build confidence, try new activities and learn responsibility. They share their prized experiences and memorable events with the young people they mentor. They talk about the problems they faced at such an age and advice experienced solutions. This program is also a great opportunity for the volunteers to grow themselves and get an insight into the mind of a young person.
Big Brothers and Big Sisters has positively influenced the lives of many young people who grew up to be responsible members of the community. It creates in them a sense of value and worth at a time when their need to get appreciated and acknowledged is at its top most. And hence creates productive and self confident members for the community.