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Big Brothers Big Sisters Looks out for Capital Region Children

By Allison Wilson

A positive role model is vital in the development of a child. In your own life, you can probably think of at least one person who invested in you, who inspired and encouraged you to achieve success in life. A caring role model or mentor in a child's life can provide guidance and support that they would otherwise be without. For more than 30 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region has been pairing such role models with youth in communities across Cumberland, Dauphin, Lebanon and Perry Counties.

"Our mentoring programs have been reviewed by independent research and are proven to help children to succeed in and out of school," says Maddie Young, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region. "We develop positive relationships that have a direct and lasting effect on the lives of young people."

Big Brothers Big Sisters programs focus on meeting the developmental needs of children facing adversity. Staff members work with partners in the education and juvenile justice communities to identify children who could benefit from mentoring programs, including those living in single parent homes, growing up in poverty, and coping with parental incarceration.

Big Brothers Big Sisters provides meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers (Bigs) and children ages 6-18 (Littles). Bigs get together with Littles as often as both parties want to spend quality time and provide friendship, guidance and encouragement to set a better foundation for life success. The Big Brothers Big Sisters organization encourages matches to spend time together doing no cost or low cost activities.

"Matches share everyday activities together at a crucial time in the children's lives," Young says. "Our agency also receives in-kind donations of tickets to events, which we share with our matches so that they can create memories doing something they otherwise would not have the opportunity to."

Big Brothers Big Sisters also provides ongoing support, supervision, training and advice to the Big, Little and the Little's family to help ensure the match is working for everyone involved.

There are many options for adults who want to volunteer as Bigs. With community-based mentoring, a Big is matched with a Little for one-on-one mentoring based on location, personalities and preferences. Couples and family matching allows two or more mentors to become involved with a Little individually or as a group. School-based mentoring focuses on helping a Little realize their potential in their school environment like the classroom or playground.

National research proves the value of Big Brothers Big Sisters. According to a nationwide impact study of the mentoring organization, Littles are 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs, 27 percent less likely to begin using alcohol and 52 percent less likely to skip school. Littles also report that they are more confident in their schoolwork performance and able to get along better with their families.

"When Little Brothers and Little Sisters feel good about themselves, they can positively impact their friends and families, their schools, and their communities," says Young regarding the study results. "And as this important study has shown, these young people believe in themselves because a Big Brother or Big Sister believed in them."

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The Big Brothers Big Sisters organization encourages matches to spend time together doing no cost or low cost activities.



About The Author

Allison Wilson is an award-winning writer and communications professional whose...

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