The teenage years are some of the hardest, yet most important times of a person’s life developmentally. The decisions someone makes as a teenager can set the script for their entire life. This is when risky behavior like joining gangs, committing crimes, doing drugs and many other behaviors that often carry over to their adult life begins. It’s important to break those patters early and also make sure the child has positive influences.
Big Brother Big Sister of America caters to at risk youth by pairing them with an adult mentor to help influence positive behaviors and high academic achievement. Big Brother Big Sister is ranked as one of the top mentoring programs in the country and has been serving children ages 6-18 for over one hundred years. The program focuses on one-on-one mentoring so every child has their own volunteer “Big” specially chosen for them. Big Brother Big Sister’s goal is the achieve not only higher educational success and lower risky behavior, but they also strive to improve self-confidence which is something I think the video mentoring program at UMFS does a great job of. A big reason for children acting out because of low self-confidence. Once students realize that they have the ability to do anything they put their mind to, they start to want to learn and approach situations with a much more positive attitude.
Big Brother also gives youth role models. They encourage positive behavior and also serve as a great example of where that child could be if they chose to follow the right path. Although our video mentoring class is not a one-on-one program, the mentor to student ratio is high, so students are still able to get personalized attention and help. We have learned which students work best with us and have adjusted accordingly. I think this is really beneficial because this is creating a bond. The students are responding to our positive influence better and wanting to set higher goals for themselves. Some of the students truly do look up to us and I think they are starting to aspire to achieve greater things in life.