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, February 25, 2014

Confessions from the parent of a potential bully

In a recent Ipsos survey commissioned by Big Brothers Big Sisters and Invesco Canada, 59% of Canadians have revealed that they were bullied, when younger. That’s more than half the population. It got me thinking… who were all these people bullied by?

So here’s my confession... I have a child who is willful and has been known to use manipulative tactics to gain an advantage over his friends, and while I am being completely honest, over his brother and even myself at times.

Does that make him a potential bully? I think he could be.

Does that make him a bad kid. No. I don’t think so.

In the survey mentioned above - many Canadians also admitted they felt they suffered long-term harm as a result of bullying.

  • 69% suffered lack of confidence
  • 53% low self esteem
  • 29% depression
These potential long-term effects were confirmed by a study published in the Journal of JAMA Psychiatry last week. Researchers found that victims of bullying in childhood were 4.3 times more likely to have an anxiety disorder as adults, compared to those with no history of bullying or being bullied.

I think the hardest part is admitting that your child, who you may feel is a reflection of you as a parent, may not always make the choices you would like them to make, despite how much you teach them. I am sure many parents jump into action when they suspect their child may be the victim of bullying but how many are just as active when they suspect their child may be the bully.

If you look at the stats it only makes sense… in some cases the bullied are also sometimes the bullies and vice versa. It is not as clear cut as good or bad and disciplined or undisciplined. It’s a complex problem.

Our research shows that having a mentor to speak to for either the bully or the bullied is a step in the right direction in building self-confidence and improving relationships.

Tell us – have you ever bullied? Been bullied? Share your thoughts and possible solutions.

* Pink Shirt Day is this Wednesday February 26, 2014. Show your support, wear a pink shirt.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

If Video Killed the Radio Star What is Social Media Doing to our Children

Some of you may have heard or even remember a song from The Buggles, released in 1979, called Video Killed the Radio Star. The song was about the promotion of technology but also its potential worrying effects. The song was made famous when it was the first video played by MTV when it launched in the early 80s.

Why should we continue to worry about technology and its effect, especially on our children.

A recent report by Media Smarts entitled Young Canadians in a Wired World shows that Canadian students are more connected, more mobile and more social than ever and yet adults are less strict about monitoring and educating their children about online behaviors.

Here are some sobering stats from the survey:

- 24% of Grade 4 students own a cell phone;
- 30% have a Facebook account despite the fact that Facebook is supposed to be restricted to anyone under the age of 14.

Even more troubling, the survey asked the children if there were rules about their online use

- 44% of the respondents said they had rules about getting together with someone they meet online;
- 48% said they have restrictions regarding sites they visit;
- 52% said they had rules regarding talking with strangers online.

In 2005, 74% of respondents of a similar survey said they had rules about getting together with someone they met online; 70% had restrictions regarding visiting certain websites and 69% had rules about talking to strangers online.

Interestingly, another piece or research caught our attention this week: Teens are reporting high levels of stress and are having trouble managing it. In fact 43% of the teens surveyed said they are turning to online activities to manage their stress instead of more healthy alternatives such as exercise.

Clearly, we cannot stop children from using technology, nor perhaps should we; however, we should start thinking about how we educate them about its use and provide then with some guidelines on healthy online habits or we may see some unhealthy side effects.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Energy Rich Foods

If you keep good food in your fridge, you will eat good food- Errick McAdams

By Tania Archer
Health&Fitness Enthusiast . Speaker . Idea Catalyst

Optimize your athletic performance by fueling your body with energy rich foods ...

Enhance your athletic performance with foods that give you ENERGY, help you BURN stored carbohydrates, FUEL your muscles and even BOOST your cardiovascular health.

The right foods, such as leafy green vegetables, can significantly increase the absorption of protein which help your muscles to repair faster; but to experience dramatic results you would have to eat almost 2-pounds of iron packed leafy green veggies a day.

By incorporating foods from the 5 basic food groups into your daily meals you can enjoy the perks of healthy and balanced nutrition "on and off the field". Power-pack every meal by selecting foods and snacks rich in proteins, iron and "good carbs".

12 Energy Rich Foods

Pineapple. Peanut Butter & Jelly. Asparagus. Chocolate Milk. Pasta & Meat Sauce. Papaya. Grilled Salmon. Avocado. Spinach. Whole Grain Bread. Quinoa. Sweet Potato. Natural Almonds.

Easy Eats

An easy to prepare nutritious meal is an Avocado&Turkey Club Sandwich on Whole Grain Bread with a chilled Glass of H2O.


5 (five) slices of Avocado from a halved avocado
2 (two) Tomato slices from a large tomato
3 (three) slices of deli roasted Turkey
1/2 (half) cup of raw Spinach leaves or mixed Greens (rinse lightly and pat dried)
1 (one) tablespoon of light calorie Mayonnaise
1/2 (half) teaspoon of Dijon Mustard (optional)
2 (two) slices of Whole Grain Bread (toasted optional)

Layer slices of Avocado, Turkey, Tomato, Spinach Leaves on Whole Grain Bread dressed with Light Mayonnaise and Dijon Mustard. Slice the layered sandwich diagonally and enjoy it with a glass of cool ice-water garnished with a twist of natural lemon juice. A perfect side to this great dish is a mixed green salad.

* Turkey slices can be substituted for an appropriate vegan option. A healthy alternative to light mayonnaise is plain, no fat, Greek yogurt. For those with a nut allergy, please use nut free products that are suitable for your dietary needs. Please use vegetable wash on all whole vegetables prior to preparation.

Chow down to power-up before and after your workouts by seeking nutrient rich foods.


Tania Archer

Monday, February 3, 2014

Twenty-Nine Years of Friendship and Counting

By Trish Quan

I met my Big Sister, Joyanne, when I was twelve years old. I lived with my mom, my younger sister, and my brother. Although there was little money to pay for out-of-school activities, my mom was very resourceful. In the spring of 1983, she approached me with the idea of becoming a Little Sister. At first I didn’t like the idea. I was confident that I didn’t need any special attention. I was the big sister, after all.

Despite my misgivings, I decided to give it a try. I liked Joyanne right away. Our first outing was a trip to buy the ingredients to make pizza. Joyanne always let me take the lead and decide the flow of our day. She made a point of asking me what I liked to do. We have had many excellent adventures, such as kayaking, hiking, sailing, seeing plays, watching movies, shopping, and trips to Seattle and Victoria. I am often reminded of a quote from Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Joyanne made me feel special.

As a Big Sister, Joyanne embodied qualities that are so important for young women. I was the first one in my family to graduate high school and continue on to post-secondary education. Joyanne helped me see the possibilities if I stayed in school.

In October 1991, at the age of forty, my mom was killed in a car accident. Joyanne, just days away from delivering her second child, stood by me in those darkest days. My mom kept me grounded. When she died, I lost my compass and began to flounder. Joyanne’s care and mentorship got me through it. My mother’s death has changed me indescribably, but I’m a big believer in resilience. I was able to continue my life in the face of so much pain, but without Joyanne’s support, it would have been a much more difficult task.

The foundation of friendship Joyanne and I built through Big Sisters is the foundation I stand upon as a grown woman. My Big Sister is a key person in my life. I look up to her, want to learn from her, and continue to hope and dream with her.

Ours is a tale of twenty-nine years of friendship and counting.