National Mentoring Partnership
BIGS HELPING LITTLES
January is National Mentoring Month
JANUARY MARKS THE BEGINNING of a new year, a fresh start and new experiences. It’s also National Mentoring Month, an effort by the National Mentoring Partnership to highlight the importance of mentoring, or taking a school-aged child under your wing.
Mentoring strengthens communities, according to the partnership.
Mentored children are more likely to succeed in school, make responsible decisions, model good behavior and be productive citizens, the partnership has found.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County provides a variety of ways to become a mentor. “ Bigs” volunteer to spend time with a “ Little” about once a week. Activities can be as simple as playing a board game or could include attending arts or sporting events. BBBS sends weekly emails to “ Bigs” with local low-cost ideas for activities and sometimes offers free tickets to certain events. It’s fun with a purpose.
BBBS of Dane County currently has 500 active pairs of Bigs and Littles, but 700 kids remain on the waiting list.
Families can also volunteer to support a Little, which teaches kids in the family about giving back, diversity and appreciating what you have.The Little experiences a kind of family life that may be missing at home.
Matches are made through personal interviews with the Big and the Little. It’s a team effort between a BBBS match support specialist, the Little, their parents or guardians and the Big. Some relationships begin when the Little is just 6 and last through high school.
The goal is to support children at risk through high school graduation. Last year, 100 percent of Dane County Littles in their senior year graduated from high school, according to Sandy Morales, BBBS fund development director,The Littles learn to build relationships, give back to their community and reach their full potential. Bigs learn about different cultures and share an opportunity for learning and growth.
It costs around $1,000 a year to create and support each match,The signature fundraiser for BBBS is Bowl for Kids Sake held in late April through early May. Teams raise money to support a match and even bowl with a Big and Little. Morales says that 100 percent of the money raised stays in Dane County to match more children with caring adult mentors.
“A mentor can change a child’s perspective on what is possible in life,” according to BBBS. What a great way to start the new year for Bigs and Littles alike.
For more information on National Mentoring Month, go to nationalmentoringmonth.org. For more on Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County, visit bbbsmadison.org.
– Amy Carlson, NCB 15 News Anchor