Big Brothers and Sisters of the Fraser Valley has launched a new program in hopes of reducing the lengthy wait times for boys registered in the program.
The organization has launched the Big Bunch program, in which a volunteer is grouped with three kids over a six-month term.
Mentoring coordinator Cassie Silva said it can take up to a year for boys to be paired with a volunteer.
“These boys on our wait list want a mentor so badly,“ said Silva “Whenever I see them, they eagerly ask if I have found them a Big Brother yet. They get the idea in their heads that nobody is picking them and I have to explain to them that the reality is that not many men are applying, it has nothing to do with them being passed over.”
Silva said a recent research study conducted by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto found that mentored boys are two times less likely to develop negative conducts like bullying, fighting, lying, cheating, and losing their temper, and are twice as likely to believe that school is fun and that doing well academically is important.
The boys on our wait list in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows have a wide variety of interests, she said.
“Some are athletic and love sports, while others prefer doing crafts and talking about science and the paranormal or rock-hunting. But what they all have in common is that they are seeking a positive male role model to do guy stuff with, like kicking a ball around or go fishing.”
This six-month Big Bunch program is being funded by Maple Ridge Community Foundation. There are currently seven boys and four girls on the Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows wait list.
Silva said women tend to volunteer in greater numbers, so that’s why the new program is aimed at getting more men involved.
Silva said volunteer commitment for these various programs can range from once a week to once a month and there are also opportunities for teens in Grades 10 to 12 to become mentors to younger students.