ig Brothers Big Sisters of Washtenaw County is excited to announce that we are bringing our school base program back. Our school base program is called Lunch Buddies. Lunch Buddies will be held at Estabrook Elementary School in Ypsilanti. The Little’s will be 2nd to 4th graders and the Bigs will be individuals in the community who are willing to center youth, be a role model, and will help us ignite the power and promise of youth to reach their full potential. Bigs & Littles will meet once a week during lunch in the gym. During Lunch Buddies, Bigs & Littles will eat lunch with one another, do an icebreaker, then with their remaining time have free time to explore the playground, do a craft, or play a fun game in the gym. Like our community based program, we are asking Bigs & Littles to be matched for a minimum of a year, and to get together once or twice a month during the summer at a BBBS event. We are hoping that programming will begin in January 2022. If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity you can sign up for an informational session by clicking here.
Our goal with school based mentoring is to increase youth matched in developmental mentoring relationships. The Search Institute shares developmental relationships are marked by five elements: express care, share power, expand possibilities, challenge growth, and provide support. These 5 elements make a powerful impact in the lives of young people..The long lasting mentoring relationships created during programming have a tremendous impact. They increase the strength of the relationship, which leads to positive longer term outcomes, and provide ongoing relationship development and learning opportunities for all parties.
We recognized the majority of the kids that are currently on the waiting list for our Community Based Mentoring program were from Ypsilanti. We needed to find another way in which to serve them with a trusted adult to support them socially, emotionally and academically. We wanted to find new opportunities for connections between young people and the adults that were eager and willing to support them.
It is an important time to bring school based mentoring back to the program. Students are facing another hard school year with COVID-19 still very prominent, along with a whole new set of challenges being back in the school building. Some students have reported issues with self-esteem, bullying, and heightened emotions. An article from NBC found other challenges including, feeling anxious, overwhelmed, and having a hard time focusing. Issuelab highlighted the impact a school based program has on youth, benefits included: increased academic performance, improved attitude toward school, stronger peer relationships and interactions, improved attitudes and connectedness toward parents, and higher self esteem. The school base program is also impactful for youth to have another adult to hang out with and talk to.
Issuelab also highlighted the benefits for an individual volunteering for a school based mentoring program. They noted that with a school based program there is a less intensive time commitment than community based programs, which may be appealing to individuals such as students, those with families, or full-time jobs. Being a mentor has so many benefits. According to youth.gov, mentors can benefit from mentoring youth by gaining insight into childhood and adolescence, have a sense of accomplishment, and increase self-esteem. Mentoring youth is a great way to be the mentor you felt like you needed growing up. There is no better time than right now to get involved and be back in the school to make an impact in the community.