Big Brother makes big impact through in-school mentoring program

“My Big Brother made me feel like I was worth something, and that was very important to me at that stage in my life.”

Powerful words shared by Steve Osmak about how his Big Brother mentor changed his life when he was a child. Now Steve is a Big Brother to Orion, a student at a Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) school, through the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Barrie In-School Mentoring Program. Steve and Orion meet once a week for one hour at school, during the school year. They read, play games, make crafts – whatever they feel like doing that day.

The SCDSB was presented with a national award from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada to recognize the work the SCDSB does in providing mentoring programs in schools. Programs that the SCDSB provides in partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Barrie and District include the Big Brothers Big Sisters In-School Mentoring Program, Go Girls! and Game On. Each program provides opportunities for youth to enhance their social skills, self-esteem, physical activity and healthy living.

The award was presented at Oakley Park Public School on Oct. 11, which also supports the BBBS programs at their school.

“I’ve personally seen the difference in kids who have a Big Brother or Big Sister mentor,” says Heidi Cameron-Armstrong, Principal at Oakley Park PS. “This partnership is vital to ensure that our students receive support from caring adult mentors when it’s needed.”

“Studies show that mentoring helps kids stay in school, avoid risky behavior such as bullying, and grow up having more respect for family, peers and community,” says Marianne Arbour, Executive Director, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Barrie and District. “We are always looking for new volunteers for our in-school programs – it only takes as little as one hour a week to impact a child’s life.”

Like Orion says, “It’s nice to have someone to talk to about anything.”

To learn about becoming a volunteer, visit the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Barrie website.

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