Bigs and Littles. You have probably heard those terms but what do they mean? What do they matter; and to whom?
They refer to Big Brothers and Big Sisters and Little Brothers and Little Sisters. They matter deeply to kids of about grade school to middle school age who need an adult friend and mentor.
An adult sets up a closely monitored relationship with a child and acts as a friend, someone with whom the child can talk and ask questions and learn. These friendships have led to a 46 percent reduction in drug and alcohol abuse and a reduction in teenage pregnancy. They also result in a 52 percent reduction in truancy and better attitudes toward school and adults. They break the cycle of poor education, under-nutrition and poverty. The children tend to grow and make productive citizens of themselves.
The Bigs and Littles are carefully matched by gender, interests and personalities and, due to the care used in the selection process, the pairing almost always works.
The Big Brother/Big Sister organization also supplies expert backup services to the Bigs.
If a Big is told, as one actually was told, that the Little was 13 years old and had to get a boyfriend if she was to have a baby by the time she was 14 there is immediate help for the Big.
The Big was given suggestions as to how to guide conversations, provide better examples and help break the girl’s chain of pregnancy and poverty. That girl is now an adult with a husband, kids of their own, jobs and a future. They are going to college. Thanks, Big Sister.
Marni White, Regional Executive Director for Ellis County talked to the Rotary Club about the program, how to get involved and what the steps are.
An adult volunteer undergoes a background check and provides references. There is a detailed interview process and some on-line instruction and guidance.
The child is also extensively interviewed. The child and parent or parents also have to agree to the program. Interests, skills, gender and personality types are considered in making a pairing.
There are three versions of the program available:
• Just be a friend – a school-based program where the Big meets the Little once a week at school, just to talk during lunch, for instance.
• A community-based program in which the Big meets the Little outside school at least twice a month. They might go shopping or to a ball game.
• Couple matches or family matches involve bringing a Little into the family group for activities and outings.
To get more information about how you can be involved visit Big Brother/Big Sister at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at www.bbbstx.org and click on Ellis County at the bottom of the page.
For more information about the Rotary Club of Waxahachie where we believe in Service above Self and doing things as a club we cannot do alone, visit the club website www.waxahachierotary.org. Flag subscription applications can be found there.