This month we are excited to have two very special Matches of the Month: meet brother and sister Lance and Layla and their Bigs Josh and Faaiza! These siblings were matched with their new mentors on the same day last December and have been going strong ever since. Lance and Josh quickly bonded over their shared love of Marvel movies and comic books and love to spend time playing video games, perusing the comics at the Vault of Midnight, and talking about what comic book plots they think will be made into movies next. Layla and Faaiza found their connection immediately through their shared love of exploring area restaurants and have already had several wonderful trips out spent laughing and having deep talks over great meals.
Layla and Faaiza agreed early on in their match that one of the things they wanted to do most was discover more of the community together. They have spent the last several months exploring Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor, including museums, parks, restaurants, and have even participated in BBBS events such as Art Night, opening Layla up to all sorts of new experiences. Meanwhile, Lance has bonded with Josh by truly listening to him and supporting his interests, while gently encouraging him to move beyond his comfort zone. Lance is interested in music, but struggles with shyness, so Josh has been finding ways that they can explore music together through festivals, concerts, and drop in lessons. Josh has also encouraged Lance to ask questions of store staff and other people they encounter as a way to engage him in low stakes conversations that build his confidence. Both of these matches have done a great job building trust and exploring new things, which builds a young person up to dream big.
In both of these matches, the Bigs empower the Littles by truly listening to them and giving them opportunities to lead, make decisions, and explore their passions in new and exciting ways. Josh empowers Lance to feel confident in his own curiosities and interests by happily exploring the comics, movies, and shows Lance loves most with him. The pair love to have long weekly conversations about the Marvel Universe and Star Wars franchise, go shopping at their favorite comic book shops, and even spend time just sitting quietly together, reading comics. Faaiza also empowers Layla by giving her a supportive listening ear. They both remember the first deep discussion they had with each other and how candid and open Layla was. Faaiza considers this a very special moment because she was able to see another side of Layla and remind her how strong, smart, and capable she is. Layla shared that this moment was really special to her also because it showed her how supportive and encouraging Faaiza is. “We’re really close,” Layla said. “It’s supportive and amazing!”
When Faaiza and Josh consistently give Layla and Lance the freedom to express their interests and have a say in what choose to do, they are teaching them that their interests matter, and their voice has power. For Layla and Faaiza, this means planning special outings like their favorite day, when they explored in Depot Town together. They grabbed pizza, wandered around the interesting shops, walked through Riverside park, and then sat down for some coffee and chatting. This simple day is special to them because it gave them an opportunity to learn more about each other and enjoy each other’s company in a truly relaxed way. For Lance and Josh, this has meant lots of moments of levity and laughter, like when they choose to see a poorly reviewed movie in theaters. They did not like the movie at all, but when it was over, they looked at each other and broke out laughing, simply because the experience of seeing such a bad movie together was so much fun-and gave them lots to talk about afterwards!
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