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, June 22, 2015

Mentoring in Aboriginal Communities - Amy Joe's Story

In School Mentoring provides girls and boys with a role model and a friend to talk to and share the experiences of growing up with, within school grounds. For one hour a week, mentors meet with their mentee and engage in fun recreation activities. In 2014, Boston Pizza Future Prospects provided a multi-year grant of to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kamloops & Region to expand the mentoring program to better support Rural and Aboriginal students in Merritt, BC. This is just one of many stories of how mentoring is making a difference for aboriginal youth in their community.

As a teenager, I always enjoyed spending time with children. My first job was a babysitter for my younger siblings, cousins and family friends. During my post-secondary studies in business, I worked at the Conayt Friendship Centre in my hometown of Merritt. The term Conayt originated from Nlaka:pamux or Ntlakyapamuk, the Thompson language. Conayt means "helping others". One day at work, I came across a Big Brothers Big Sisters poster for In School Mentoring. The program looked amazing, so I applied to be a volunteer mentor.

I was matched with Savanah, who attended the same elementary school I went to as a child. Savanah was full of funny stories and had an amazing talent for drawing. We instantly bonded over our love for animals and art. As an only child, Savanah did not have a great deal of socialization outside school hours and struggled to make solid friendships. We loved learning about each other’s families and culture, and both looked forward to our weekly visits. I was so happy to have the opportunity to become a friend and role model to Savanah.

As the weeks passed, I met other students and teachers who really cared for Savanah’s well-being. Throughout the program, I made several friendships that I still treasure today. During my time working and volunteering in my community, I realized my dream was to become a teacher. I believe all young people need encouraging role models and a supportive network to reach their full potential. Many students lack positive role models in their life, and as a result, struggle with their academics and self-esteem.

Thank you Big Brothers Big Sisters for giving me the opportunity to meet my little buddy Savanah. The experience was truly life changing as I will soon complete my Education degree and look forward to a day where I can work with In School Mentoring as a teacher.

by Amy Joe, In-School Mentor Volunteer

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