You’ve very likely heard of Big Brothers or Big Sisters growing up. Chances are you may even have participated in the program yourself or know someone who did. The organization has been around for over a century and it continues to focus on mentoring programs for young people. Here are a few interesting facts about Big Brothers Big Sisters:
1 – Which Came First?
In Canada, the first Big Sister agency was established in Toronto in 1912. The following year the first Canadian Big Brother program was launched – also in Toronto. The origins of the movement can be traced back to 1904 in New York City. Court Clerk Ernest Coulter noted that the volume of boys passing through the court system was increasing.
He thought that caring adults could offer some kind of support to help keep more kids out of trouble. Coulter enlisted 40 volunteers to spend time with the youngsters. It caught on as there were 96 cities with Big Brothers groups in the United States by 1916. There are now over 480.
2 – The Merge
Big Brothers of America was a separate group from Big Sisters International (in America) just as was the case in Canada. That changed in 1977 when the two US-based organizations joined forces to become Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. The Canadian duo followed suit in 2001 to form Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada.
The popularity of the youth program attracted attention from outside of Canada and the US. It led to the formation in 1998 of Big Brothers Big Sisters International in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This group assists other countries in establishing youth programs and keeping lines of communication open between active countries.
3 – By The Numbers
In Canada Big Brothers Big Sisters have active programs in ten provinces and one territory through over 128 local agencies. These agencies reach over 1,000 Canadian communities. The program is also currently available in 12 other countries around the world. The program matches one adult with a same-sex child.
The adult mentor serves as a role model and teaches several life skills through example. They include giving, giving back, staying in school, and being respectful of family, community and peers. Many community leaders in today’s world credit the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization for helping them to develop skills that have led to their success.
4 – How To Get Involved
Big Brothers Big Sisters mentors are adults over the age of 18 who volunteer their time to befriend, share, listen and care for children between the ages of 6 and 18. The mentor is referred to as a ‘Big’ where the child is referred to as the ‘Little.’
Bigs and Littles form lasting friendships and grow together in a relationship that has to be experienced to fully understand. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Prince George is always looking for new Bigs and new Littles to be matched together. To find out more about the qualification process, contact the local organization for details.