Wondering how you can make a difference? This article by Emily Wight explains how Big Sisters are changing the world.
Big Sisters Change the World
In the immortal words of Beyoncé, “Who run the world? Girls.” And they most certainly will if we empower them to be strong, capable women. Vancouver-based Big Sisters BC Lower Mainland (BSBCLM) has been providing the support and opportunities for girls in our community to take over the world since the 1960s. Through mentorship, academic support, and friendship, Big Sisters BC Lower Mainland provides 700 girls aged 7 to 17 years with the agency and confidence to reach their full potential.For Vanessa Woznow, being a Big Sister is about friendship and growth. Over the course of her five-year relationship with her Little Sister, she has seen remarkable changes as the young woman, now 17, has grown more confident. “When we were first matched she couldn’t make eye contact with me when we spoke,” says Vanessa. “Five years later? I am so incredibly proud of everything that she has accomplished! But what I love the most is how proud she is of her achievements and how willing she is to talk about them.”
“We are high-five fanatics!”
Strong Young Women, Stronger Communities
Big Sisters BC Lower Mainland serves a diverse group of girls who come from every kind of individual and familial situation. Many girls are from low income families and single-parent households. Thirty-five per cent of the Little Sisters in Lower Mainland programs were born outside of Canada. Problems of low self-esteem and lack of confidence are common, and the girls often struggle with conflict at home, bullying, loss or trauma, abuse, poverty, developmental challenges, difficulties with school or physical disabilities.
The life-long, life-changing relationships born out of BSBCLM programs help Little Sisters gain the skills, tools and confidence to help them reach their full potential. Through one-on-one time spent on schoolwork or other activities, Big Sisters make a considerable difference in the lives of young girls; a relationship with a Big Sister volunteer reduces risky behaviour, improves relationships with parents, siblings, and classmates and builds self-esteem and confidence.
In as little as an hour a week, through activities as simple as homework help or a couple of games of crib on a Starbucks patio, BSBCLM volunteers are changing the course of young lives and, in turn, ensuring a brighter future for these girls and their communities.
Big Sisters is a volunteer based, donor supported program. To volunteer your time as a Big Sister, find information and apply online for the Big Sister Program, Study Buddy Program, or Go Girls! Mentoring Program.
Donations help BSBCLM support at-risk girls in reaching their full potential through mentoring. You can help in many ways: You can donate on a monthly basis, make a one-time gift, host a fundraiser, or attend a Big Sisters event. The 18th Annual Big Sisters Spring Lunch takes place on May 29th, 2014 and will feature keynote speaker Cathy Jones of This Hour Has 22 Minutes.
Of her time with her Little Sister, Vanessa says: “I always feel like a million bucks after our study sessions. Our time together is interesting and awesome and stimulating and challenging and rewarding and hilarious!”
Take a little time, if you can swing it, and be the Beyoncé in a young woman’s life. Through your mentorship – and friendship – she’ll much better positioned to strengthen her community and take over the world.