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, April 27, 2015

Beyond the Classroom

“We make a living by what we get,
but we make a life by what we give”
- Winston Churchill

It’s a proven fact that mentoring helps kids stay in school, avoid risky behavior such as bullying, and that they grow up having more respect for family, peers and their community.

While children spend countless hours learning in the classroom, it’s important to recognize that having a role model and a friend, beyond the classroom, that they can talk to and share their experiences of growing up with, all within school grounds, can be a positive and life changing experience.

All over the country, for one hour a week during the school year, mentors from the Big Brothers Big Sisters’ In-School Mentoring Program, meet with their mentee and engage in activities such as board games, crafts or simply just hang out in the playground.

Being an In-School Mentor is about giving an hour of your time, once a week, to a child who is need of a little guidance and someone they can talk to about what’s going on in their day to day life. It’s about making that child feel special and that they truly matter while making a difference and most importantly -while having fun!

We know that In-School Mentoring makes a BIG difference because-

• 90% of mentors saw a positive change in the child they were mentoring
• 88% of students showed improved literacy skills
• 64% had developed higher levels of self-esteem

The proof is in the pudding! Check out our In- School Mentoring Program video to see how one simple hour can make a BIG change in a child’s life:

Looking to become an In-School Mentor or want more information on the program? Visit our website page...

Monday, April 13, 2015

Our BIGGEST Thank You!

April 12-18 marks National Volunteer Week across Canada! We are especially grateful to the thousands of volunteers who generously donate their time to make a BIG difference in the lives of so many Little Brothers and Little Sisters across the country.

To all of our Big Brothers, Big Sisters, In-School Mentors, Go Girls! Mentors, Study Buddies, and Game On Mentors, etc. who wear so many hats through your tireless volunteerism – thank you for recognizing and championing the potential in each and every Little Brother and Sister supported by our programs. Thank you for ensuring that each of these young boys and girls will grow up believing in their self-worth and their abilities; for reinforcing the truth that each child we work with is not defined by the challenges they face in their lives, but the love, caring, and compassion that makes each one of them, them.

Thank you for your dedication, your consistency, and your belief in a world when every child who needs a mentor, has a mentor.

Thank you for your gift of time, for your passion, for your compassion, and your tireless commitment to the empowerment of our nation’s youth.

Your work positively impacts each Little Brother or Sister as well as all of our communities on the whole. You are inspiring the next generation of mentors! Every young person who goes out into the world believing in their own self-worth will in turn teach this to every single person they meet along the way.

This is the power of mentoring.

This is the power you empower as a Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor.

We cannot thank you enough.

Vanessa Woznow
Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Healthy Youth Leads to Healthy Economy

This week we are recognizing World Health Day (April 7th) and the theme this year is #foodsafety. Although that is a concern for everyone, it got us thinking about the importance of health in general.

Many countries are now recording a Wellness Index in addition to GDP to keep track of the prosperity and growth of their nation. Measures regarding Mental Health, Obesity, and even Bullying and Cyberbullying are being added to more traditional economic measures to get a much deeper, richer measure of national progress and welfare.

Fortunately for us, Canada ranks fifth on the OECD's Better Life Index (BLI), behind Australia, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, when it comes to scores in 11 areas including health, income, jobs and life satisfaction are weighed equally.

But we still have some improvements to make.

Unfortunately, we are seeing dangerous downward trends in important health determinants such as obesity, physical activity levels, bullying and cyberbullying and mental health.
  • one in five people in Canada experiences a mental health problem or illness,
  • less than 20% of the estimated 1.2 million Canadian children and youth affected by mental illness will receive appropriate treatment.
  • 1 in 4 Canadian children is obese
  • 7% of Canadian (5-11) year-olds and 4% of Canadian (12- 17) year-olds meet recommended guidelines of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity daily.
  • Canada has the 9th highest rate of bullying in the 13-years-olds category on a scale of 35 countries

How Mentoring Can Reverse the Trend

Mentoring has a huge impact on wellbeing and yet it is still grossly underfunded and undervalued in our society. Several studies have demonstrated that kids who have a Big Brother or a Big Sister are less likely to be depressed and less likely to bully or be bullied. Girls in our Go Girls! program improved their eating habits and increased their leisure activity levels. Boys in our Game On! program showed improvement in their academic attendance and achievements.

It is critical to establish the foundation for healthy emotional and social development through prevention and early intervention services to support the health and mental well-being of every Canadian as they progress from childhood to adulthood.

If you would like to support the wellbeing of Canada’s youth – you can donate to Big Brothers Big Sisters today!