From the start of their match, Anthony and Michelle have had a plan to focus on making learning fun; even making a list of possible activities they wanted to do together. Michelle wanted to make sure that they balanced learning-related activities with those that he would find to be fun. She says,” I wanted Anthony to enjoy spending time with me, not see it as just work.” Michelle goes on “I’m a psychologist, but did not want to be a psychologist within this context. However, because of all of my schooling – and because I really do enjoy learning and am curious about the world – the academic achievement seemed like a good fit.”
Although they have only been matched for four months they have been able to check many things off of their list, and have even completed a science fair project together. Anthony was interested in the planets and Saturn was his favorite one, and although they never quite came up with their hypothesis, the project had a clear focus – the Rings of Saturn. The project included building a model, writing a report and creating aposter. While working on the project they meet weekly. They went to the library to find books, went shopping at the craft store to buy supplies, and spend time together actually building the model. "The result was something that Anthony was proud of. It was great to see his and his parents’ faces, at the science fair”, said Michelle. And Anthony thought "it was the best one there!"
When talking with Anthony you learn that they not only work on school projects, but have been out and about in the community, and he has a favorite thing about each activity! They went to a library that had a station where you can play video games; which was his favorite part. They went to the zoo and took pictures of the animals; his favorite was the wolverine. They went to museums too, his favorite being the Hands on Museum. They went to a Martin Luther King event at U of M, and Anthony said "I learned a lot and had fun". And they went to a “Meet the Athletes” Day at U of M, which Anthony thought, "was the best event so far!" He says that "Michelle is an awesome Big Sister".
Tracy, Anthony's mother, feels that "Anthony is now learning from the fun of the experience. Michelle works with him. She takes him to the library and reads with him. She makes learning fun for him. I noticed that he is more confident and a little more outspoken—he feels more comfortable talking about learning and even feels smarter. Michelle is a great big sister and role model! She incorporates learning and makes it fun!”
Anthony and Michelle's match is a great example of Commitment to Learning. Their story highlights motivation and engagement in learning that can come from having a supportive one-to-one relationship with a Big Brother or Sister. Commitment to Learning is just one of the 40 building blocks of development that researchers have identified to help young people grow into healthy, caring and responsible adults. In keeping with our goal to help children reach their full potential through their social, emotional and academic growth, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washtenaw County incorporates these building blocks into the training and supports that we provide Bigs, Littles and their families.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Washtenaw County is proud to be a part of friendships like Anthony and Michelle's. We love being able to Start Something that makes such a positive difference in the lives of the children in our community.