Big Brothers Big Sisters urges adults to Start Something™ to help children succeed in and out of schoolGuest columnist
With a new year comes renewed hope for our future; as individuals, families, communities, and as a nation. The timing could not be better for us to Start Something to make a difference. As our communities face limited resources to bolster key components of youth success — funding for schools, better training for teachers, more involvement from parents — research points to something that we know works, at least as part of the solution — quality mentoring.
Long-standing independent studies widely quoted by mentoring advocates and programs find children enrolled in Big Brothers Big Sisters’ long-term mentoring programs are more likely than their peers to earn higher grades and are less likely to skip classes and school days, factors linked to high school graduation. Not surprisingly, the same studies find children in these mentoring relationships are also more likely than their peers to avoid violent and unhealthy behaviors and are more likely to have positive relationships with their parents and others.
Mentors give youth a boost — with confidence, social skills, and decision-making skills — to set goals and reach them. I have been a Big Brother to a 9-year old boy during the past year. We spend time talking, learning to play golf, making crafts, bowling, attending local events, engaging in other learning and fun activities, and just hanging out.
The time together is special to me and I know it means a lot to him also. I believe that I am helping him to think more about his future and to gain the skills to reach his goals. In this way, I am helping to start something big in his life.
This month is the the 12th anniversary of National Mentoring Month. Big Brothers Big Sisters is urging adults to Start Something this month to help kids succeed in and out of school. Visit www.bbbswnc.org to pledge to do what works for you — from donating to sharing stories about what quality mentoring achieves, to volunteering — to help children beat the odds.
Big Brothers Big Sisters believes we can all Start Something to make our nation stronger by supporting families, schools and communities to get kids on the right track. It doesn’t take much — just a simple pledge. What better time than now to Start Something positive for children in our community? For more information on how you can help, go to www.bbbswnc.org or call 734-8690 to reach the Haywood County program coordinator, Beverly McRee.
Dave Gildersleeve is an “almost retired” urban planning consultant and was a Big Brother while in college, and 42 years later is again volunteering as a Big Brother in Haywood County. Gildersleeve is also a member of the Haywood Advisory Council of Big Sisters of Western North Carolina.