At Big Brothers Big Sisters, we believe every child should have the opportunity to reach his or her full potential – both as individuals and citizens. We believe that by changing the course of young lives we can in turn be changing the course of a community’s future.
Start Talking is a place where we want to raise awareness of key issues that face today’s youth. We will sometimes advocate, sometimes educate, sometimes inform, sometimes ask questions and always invite discussion about the pressing concerns that involve the younger generations of today.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Value of an Extra Hour

When life gets extremely busy we often find ourselves saying “What I would give for an extra hour today” and with the clocks about to fall back, Canadians will have just that, the luxury of an extra hour.

As we sit back and look at our everyday life we can sometimes forget how quickly 24 hours can pass. When we factor in work, sleep, preparing meals, homework and recreational activities, we really don’t have much time to spare. According to the Standard Life Value of an Hour Survey conducted for Big Brothers Big Sisters, 62% of Canadians are so time-crunched that they think life is simply passing them by.

When we factor in all of life’s needs and then include some time for our wants such as exercise, volunteering, or spending additional time with family and friends, it’s enough to add additional stress to any already stretched out schedule. Interestingly enough, The Standard Life survey also found that 66% of Canadians would most likely volunteer if their personal schedule was less hectic, 33% would strengthen personal relationships by spending time with family and friends, and 17% would focus on their health by exercising.

After reading some of these survey findings how do you compare? Imagine how different the world we live in would be if everyone could free up even a little time each week to help others. Communities and individuals could be transformed for the better.

On November 3rd, 2013 you’ll be given an extra hour, what do you plan to do with it?

Read more of the key findings from The Standard Life Value of an Hour Survey...

Thursday, October 17, 2013

We Thank You

As families sat down for turkey over the weekend, many probably reflected upon the things they are grateful for - good health, friends and family, happiness and success.

It’s unusual for an organization to do the same – however as we wrap up celebrating 100 years of providing mentoring in Canada we couldn’t help ourselves because we have a lot to be thankful for.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada has amazing partners – many of which have been supporting the movement for over a decade. There are too many past and present to name but you can view a current list of partners on our website. Without their support, we would not be able to provide mentoring for over 40,000 children and youths across Canada.

In addition to partners, mentoring could not happen without the hundreds of thousands of volunteer mentors, past and present, who have given the most precious resource they have – time - to empower children and youth to reach their full potential.

The mentoring relationships are generated and fostered by hundreds of dedicated staff – who work long hours and many times go above and beyond to try to reach out to serve more kids in their communities.

In addition to our volunteer mentors, we have numerous other volunteers who are deeply invested in the cause and also give of their time in the hopes of creating healthy communities.

We would also like to thank the thousands of donors and event participants – who have taken up the cause and invested in our nation’s youth.

And of course we cannot forget the families and the children and youths themselves – many of them keep in touch with us and are forever part of our extended family.

Thanksgiving also happens to coincide with the launch of the Canadian Tenors new song ‘I Thank You” written by Kenny Munshaw and Marc Jordan and featuring Laura Kaeppeler. The song was written for Big Brothers Big Sisters to honour mentoring.

Have a look at their video and if you are grateful for someone who made a difference in your life – honor them by downloading the song on iTunes- $0.50 of every download will be donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hold the Sugar Please

Every day we hear about new ‘research’ that has been conducted on which foods are good for us and which ones are not. It can be information overload for most of us.

The foods we consume are filled with pesticides, preservatives and additives and labels can be misleading, so it is a challenge to know what’s ‘real’ and what’s not.

A simple change such as substituting refined sugar to natural sugar can have a big impact on our health. We’re so accustomed to reaching for sugar as we pour our cup of coffee or tea in the morning, or paying for a bottle of soda which contains close to our daily allowance of sugar - that we forget the impact it’s could be having on our current and future health.

Sugar itself has been linked to numerous health problems ranging from obesity, tooth decay and hyperactivity. On average, in 2004, Canadians consumed 110.0 grams of sugar a day, the equivalent of 26 teaspoons which is 21.4% of their total daily calorie intake. Sounds like a lot? Well, that’s because it is.

Take a look at these inexpensive natural sugar substitutes-


A herb native to South American, It’s been used as a sweetener for centuries in South America and in Japan. It’s so widespread that before Coca Cola decided to ‘standardize’ the recipe, stevia was used in Japanese Diet Coke.

Stevia has no calories, no carbohydrates, and a zero glycemic index which makes it a great natural alternative to sugar and chemical sweeteners. Stevia can be used as a sweetener in beverages in cooking and in baking.


Sweeter than white sugar, look for honey that’s been locally produced to reap the full benefits. Packed with vitamins, honey has been shown to lower the impacts of heart disease, reduce ulcers and other gastrointestinal disorders, regulate blood sugars and heal wounds and burns.

Honey may have more calories than normal sugar but because it’s sweeter you use less of it.
You can add it to sweeten beverages and also for baking. The wide range of honeys at our disposal also gives you many options for varying the flavor in cooking.

Coconut Sugar

Coconut sugar, derived from the flowers of the coconut tree, is an organic, sustainable natural sweetener that has shown great results for people who suffer from chronic illnesses or conditions such as diabetes, gallstones, cancer, heart disease and obesity. This sugar has a low glycemic index and is also a nutrient powerhouse, filled with lots of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Coconut sugar is minimally processed, unbleached and contains no preservatives

It can be used in baking, cooking and in sweetening hot beverages.

Stevia, honey and coconut sugar are all low in glycemic index, have no negative side effects and are all natural replacements to lower our daily intake of sugar.

Jamie Oliver once said – “We need to make sure that all kids are given the opportunity to learn about food and good eating while they’re still young so that they are sorted for life”.
Through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada’s diverse mentoring programs, we educate young girls and boys across Canada about the importance of healthy and balanced eating.

Find out about our mentoring programs >


Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Big Brother Experience

I became a Big Brother eight years ago, not by design but by circumstance. My interest in mentoring a younger person developed as my own children became more independent and the nest began to empty. My plan was to be a Big Brother once my life slowed down, which likely would be at retirement. My life has not slowed down as of yet, but I have a Little Brother and wouldn’t have it any other way.

My Little Brother is no longer little. He is now twenty-one years old and over six foot four. We remain close friends and visit regularly. It is wonderful to observe how positively his life is unfolding as a young man.

When I met him, he was just entering his teens. This is a critical time in any child’s development. If you are willing to provide a little of your free time, a positive influence, and a caring, listening ear, you can greatly assist in a young person’s successful entry into adulthood. It is sad that there is a small chance of a Little over the age of twelve being paired up with a Big. If only everyone knew the joys of befriending a young adult. There aren’t many experiences in life where you receive more than you put in. Spending time with someone who is eager to learn from you, and who enjoys and values your company, provides such an experience.

To be an effective Big Brother, you do not need to fill your time together with exciting activities. But you must be reliable and be prepared to share the wisdom you have gained through life experience. The other key requirement is to listen without being judgmental and give advice in a manner that does not intimidate but provides an alternative approach.
Whether you decide a younger or older Little is best for you, I am sure you will not regret it. Spending time with young people helps to keep you young and current in your thinking.

If you have been considering becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister but are waiting for the right time, contact Big Brothers Big Sisters and see how you can make a difference. Please don’t think about it too long; there’s a long list of eager young people waiting for someone like you to enter their lives.

Ron Takacs
Big Brother

If you could (or do) mentor a child in one of our mentoring programs which one would it be: