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.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Life is too short for hatred

As a young woman and making the first steps into the world of adulthood, I often look back at a simpler time. I look back at the events that have paved every milestone brick into the long branching road that we call life, and as I do, I recall that to be where I am today, I have been through the most unpleasant part of growing up. This portion is commonly referred to as bullying. In retrospect, my childhood was riddled with many harsh words and cynicisms. I am truly thankful that I had my loving family supported me thick and thin. Sadly, not all people have this benefit. I have watched many friends of mine go in so many directions – and not all of them were savory. Acne isn’t the only blemish in a young person’s life. Bullying is truly a problem we need to address as a people. Why must people be heckled for being gay, for their colour of skin, for their size and weight, for their religion or even their personality?!?!?

It’s almost [two years] since my summit with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada, and at this summit, we were given a challenge. We must be the change we wish to see in the world. So many like-minded people in a single setting, so many different people, yet, the people I met had made me feel so welcome. This strange experience of feeling like the sister of over one hundred people got me thinking: What If I can show the same amount of love to other people? I had been in an Anti-bullying group for about a year to that point, and had decided to aim my attention at the problem of bullying. I received a budget of 100 dollars and with this money, I am spreading awareness by giving incentive to one lucky grade 12 student. One who shows the same amount of compassion I felt and gave in my high school life. This person has to be a guiding light - a warm blanket to put it in metaphor.

I aim to become a Big Sister once again, and to pass the torch on to our youth, because if no one does, we will be stuck in a limbo of civil war. We are the same species, yet we treat each other in such a disgraceful way.

Life is too short for hatred.
~Willa Julius

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

My Selfish Life as a Big Brother

I’ve spent well over thirty years as a Big Brother, with no end in sight. I’ve been the best man at a Little’s wedding, had a Little’s baby named after me, helped a Little through the death of his mother and the death of his best friend, done a cross-country motorcycle trip with a grown-up Little, and even done several four-day/night-long flagpole sits in grotesque weather to raise awareness for our local Big Brothers Big Sisters organization.

I remember applying for my first Little and having long conversations with my caseworker to explain that, even though I was a very young man, a long-haired motorcycle rider, and didn’t own a car, I was completely responsible and safe on my bike. It took some convincing to get my caseworker and my Little’s mother to finally agree that I could be trusted and that my Little could ride on the only vehicle I owned: a huge touring motorcycle.

My first day as a Big Brother began when I was introduced to my Little and his mother. I gave another big speech to his mother and our caseworker about my safe and responsible riding, and eventually my brand-new little friend and I rode off. I could see his mother’s face in my mirror, a combination of happiness and trepidation. Perhaps I looked too closely, because then . . . I crashed. It was the first and only crash I’ve ever had. In reality it was minor, but it was monumental in my mind! My Little thought it was funny, and his mother turned out to be a saint.

And that’s how I began a thirty-year journey of extreme selfishness. I’ve had plenty of smiling, nodding heads approving of these decades of my dedication to this great program, yet I can’t shake the feeling that, even though I’m proud of the role modelling and time and effort I’ve put into sharing my fortunate life with others, it’s all about my feelings, my satisfaction, and my self-esteem. Because ultimately, by spending my entire adult life as a Big Brother and allowing these important relationships to be part of my life, I have been the truly fortunate one. Simply put, my life has been better as a result of Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the bonus is that, by channeling my selfishness in community-minded ways, perhaps I’ve also made a positive contribution here and there!

by Andy Beesley