Mentors making a difference

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada celebrates 100 years of helping children

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada will celebrate its centennial next year, and the Cranbrook branch is joining in the celebrations.

2013 marks 100 years that Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada has been providing mentoring programs for young people, both one-to-one and in groups.

Cranbrook’s chapter began in 1977 and by 2011 it had grown to 108 matches between a mentor and a youth.

“In the beginning, it was a group of volunteers who felt it was really important, and they were the ones making it happen,” said Dana Osiowy, executive director of Cranbrook’s Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS).

“The movement has really grown and become far more developed.”

Now BBBS is preparing for a year-long centennial celebration. The national organization will publish a book of mentoring stories, it will have a stamp in its honour, and it provide a unique opportunity for Canadians to talk about the mentors in their own lives.

“Across Canada, the conversation will be about who was your mentor,” said Osiowy. “Everyone will be talking about who has made that change in your life. I am really excited about that.”

In January, BBBS will release a multi-year research project on the effects of mentoring on children.

“It will be one of the most comprehensive studies ever done on the subject,” said Osiowy.

Also part of centennial celebrations, BBBS will release marketing research surveys on anti-bullying, youth social consciousness, academic success and civic engagement. It will hold a national youth summit  in April, and a national mentoring symposium in November.

September 18 will be Big Brother Big Sister Day, supported with community events across Canada.

To mark the centennial of Big Brothers Big Sisters in 2013, the Cranbrook Daily Townsman will feature the inspiring stories of several partnerships that have grown through the program over its 35 years in Cranbrook. Starting in January, you can read regular profiles of mentors and children enrolled in the program.