Teen in-school mentor Ashley describes her experience as a mentor.
“I have participated during two semesters in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program. The first semester I took the program as part of Grade 11 psychology class and I found it very inspirational. I was lucky to have two little buddies in kindergarten and one of them had special needs. I was unaware of my one buddy’s special needs until I started comparing his mental capacity to my other buddy. I then worked to make games fair for both of them. For example, I would let my buddy with special needs create a game based on a real sport my other buddy would want to play. It was very interesting to see how their minds worked and how sincere and passionate they were for being such a young age. I had a remarkable time learning with my buddies, as well as about them and being able to provide a friendship for both of them. I believe I made a greater impact on my buddy with special needs because I was his only friend willing to have patience with him and work at his speed at the time. The look on his face when he would see me enter the playground, while waiting by the supervisor was absolutely priceless. I have never seen a larger smile on a child before and it gave me a wonderful feeling of importance and satisfaction with my role in this program. I learned how to makes games fair and how to interact officially and as a friend with my little buddies without one of them feeling left out. I learned how remarkable their minds are and just how great it feels to provide a secure friendship by being a big buddy.
“I was so inspired from the first semester of being a big buddy that I am now participating in the program again during my spare in Grade 12. I go every Thursday to see my same little buddy with special needs as in Grade 11. He is still the remarkable and inspirational boy I developed a friendship with the year before. He remembered who I am and was quite willing and content with having me as a big buddy again, which really showed me that I made an impact on him last year and what the program is really about. I have tried to teach him my name, but he just wants me to be known as his big buddy, which always puts a smile on my face. I have learned the obstacles he struggles with and I have found ways to overcome them with him. I have learned how simple it really is to work with a child with special needs as long as you have patience and take the time to become their friend. Working with my little buddy has truly shown me the great purpose of this program by being a friend to someone who doesn’t have any. I know I have impacted my buddy’s life in a positive way, but I also know that this knowledge has a greater effect on me. I am proud to be a part of the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program and to have had these experiences to learn the needs of others and just how great it feels to truly help someone.”
The Teen In-School Mentor program has been a great success. Our organization is now planning to expand with a Senior In-School Mentoring program. This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors program. We are encouraging seniors to contact our office (250-992-7257) to discover how they can contribute to a young person’s life and enjoy contributing to the community.
Drop by our office at 368 Vaughan Street to purchase raffle tickets for a West Jet flight.
Golfers/supporters please sign up for 7th Annual Golf for Kids Sake, Sunday Sept. 8.
Maggie Bello is executive director of BBBSQ and a regular Observer columnist.