Contributed by Diana Farhat (Teacher Candidate)
Big Brothers Big Sisters is the leading child and youth mentoring organization in Canada. The organization consists of many different mentoring programs, each targeted at children with different needs. The goal of this organization is to provide children and youth with mentors who inspire them to reach their full potential. Through the meaningful relationships formed, children feel supported and their self-esteem and confidence are given a boost. Mentoring has been shown to decrease negative behaviours in children, such as bullying. These children also grow up to be respectful of their friends, family, and community. In the city of Ottawa, there are currently 10 different mentoring programs, each focusing on a different area of need in the community.
Although many of the organization’s programs relate to the ideas and foundations underlying Comprehensive School Health, a couple of the programs can be specifically applied to promote health in schools. The Go Girls! Group focuses on promoting healthy bodies and minds, specifically in young girls, through eating well, physical activity, and self-esteem. In elementary schools, this group could be generalized to include both girls and boys. This is a great group to incorporate because we all know that healthy students have the ability to learn and achieve more! The organization also has an In-School Mentoring Program. This program provides students with the opportunity to share their personal experiences with a mentor, who meets with them once a week at the schools. During this visit, students are able to engage in activities with their mentors, or just simply hang out and chat. This program could be useful to bring to schools because it provides students with role models who encourage the formation of healthy relationships and the importance of staying in school. One way you could implement this sort of program within a school is to have students from the higher grades mentor younger students, either on the playground during recess or possibly after school. This would result in a school-wide promotion of positive and healthy relationships!
For more information on the Big Brothers, Big Sisters programs and how you could get involved, visit http://www.bbbso.ca/en/Home/default.aspx.