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KCR: Volunteers give power to youth

KCR Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

Are you ready for a volunteer opportunity that allows you to make significant impact on a child’s life? Then Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Central and Southern Interior (BBBSCSI) may have the perfect opportunity for you. Their mission is to enable life changing Mentoring relationships to ignite the power and potential of young people, and their vision is for all young people to realize their full potential.

Sarah Thompson is the interim program director for the organization and believes strongly in the mutually beneficial nature of the mentorship program, which was initiated over 50 years ago in direct response to community need, and continues to be very relevant and necessary today.

“Volunteers make an impact by helping children and youth in our mentoring programs gain self-esteem, problem-solving skills, psychological resilience, self-expression, and skills for building positive relationships with peers and adults,” explains Sarah. “Mentors experience a sense of discovery and enjoyment as they see the world of possibility open up through a child’s eyes.”

“Many children and youth in Canada struggle with societal barriers and face adversities in their lives like detrimental living conditions, family violence, risk factors for mental health, school issues and identity challenges. These circumstances have nothing to do with the value of who they are or who they can become, but because of these situations, children and youth risk not having the opportunity to live up to their full potential,” continues Sarah. “Even worse is the possibility of continuing cycles of poverty and crime or developing mental health issues. With the guidance and support of a mentor, these risks can be reduced or even avoided, and youth are reminded they can be anything they dream of being.”

BBBSCSI is one of 108 member agencies in the Big Brothers and Sisters of Canada Federation, serving over 1,100 communities across Canada. Together they mobilize over 21,300 volunteers who mentor over 41,700 children and youth. This works out to nearly 2.2 million volunteer hours each year.

“Every child deserves the chance to thrive, which is why we offer Mentoring and Social-Emotional Learning Strategies to support them,” adds Sarah. “Our programs address the goal of developing thoughtful, socially responsible youth. We offer an extensive variety of one-to-one and group programs, and we have pivoted to offer these essential resources virtually. These are now offered both during and outside of school hours.”

“These effective and evidence-based programs are delivered to elementary, middle and high school students in a variety of communities throughout the Central and Southern Interior of British Columbia. They are designed to increase empathy, self-awareness, and self-regulation, therefore enhancing cognitive functioning, personal success, friendships, and resiliency in both students and communities,” concludes Sarah. “Mentoring is about the power of healthy relationships and helping children and youth reach their full potential.”

BBBSCSI values diversity and welcomes all people regardless of race, religion, culture, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, or gender identity. To be a volunteer or to find out more, contact Sarah at www.bigs.bc.ca or the VolunteerConnector at www.kcr.ca.

Dorothee Birker is the communications and development coordinator for KCR Community Resources. If you are interested in sharing your volunteer or organizational news, please contact Dorothee at dorothee@kcr.ca.

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