In September Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada celebrates that for over 100 years that their programs have delivered healing and protective powers through mentorship, and that have reached generations of young Canadians coast to coast. Here in Colchester Big Brothers Big Sisters has been serving our community for over 40 years, and this month they will be celebrating all the ways in which our volunteer mentors support the youth here in our community.
By no fault of their own, young people in the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) programs are facing daily adversaries and barriers to their success. Through mentorship, BBBS provides a caring and consistent adult who builds a safe and trusting relationship that can enable young people to thrive, despite the challenges they face. BBBS is a no-cost community program for young people who can benefit from an additional consistent relationship with an adult. Almost 80% of BBBS families identify as living with financial stress. This could include precarious employment, no employment or single income homes with multiple dependents. BBBS believes all young people deserve access to personalized supportive, skill building opportunities and our BBBS Mentors provide just that.
BBBS has locations in urban, rural, remote and Indigenous communities across Canada. Local BBBS sites provide no-cost services that meet the needs of their local area. No two communities are alike and each has a unique set of challenges and strengths. Some Mentees live in neighborhoods where they witness violence on a daily basis. Some Mentees are socially isolated from their communities because they struggle to socially connect with peers. Some Mentees are victims of bullying or their caregiver is in recovery and cannot be fully present when they are needed. These are the adversities that some of our young people live with every day, stemming from systemic injustice and structural inequality. BBBS is incredibly proud to be apart of so many diverse communities across Canada.
Research tells us that young people who face daily adversities experience long-term, harmful disadvantages; biologically, emotionally, and economically (toxic stress research). This harm is costly to the individual, to communities, and to society as a whole. Through mentorship, BBBS can ensure that adversities faced in childhood do not define a young person’s adulthood. BBBS intervenes with a caring adult who creates a buffer between the child and their daily stressors. Science shows that providing stable, responsive, nurturing relationships to young people can prevent or even reverse the damaging effects of early life stress, with lifelong benefits for learning, behaviour, and health.
Follow along on our socials as we share some of their stories throughout the month!