There are dozens of Central Alberta youths on the waiting list at Big Brothers Big Sisters.
On Saturday, Big Brothers Big Sisters and KCB Cabinets and Renovations teamed up to host the third edition of Littles Build Bigger event to draw attention to how many mentors are needed in the Red Deer area.
“Our ultimate goal is to make sure the community is aware that we have more than 70 young people right now on our waiting list looking for a mentor through our programming,” said Terri Blanchard, program manager at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Red Deer and District, which is operated within Youth HQ.
“Big Brothers Big Sisters matches an adult mentor with a young person who has identified that they would like to have a mentor in their life.
“It’s a completely voluntary program – kids come forward and say they would like a mentor and the parents jump on board. The idea is that we are able to provide a friendship to a young person who could benefit from having an extra adult in their world.”
There are always youths coming forward looking for mentors, Blanchard noted.
“It can be tricky to find mentors sometimes. That’s what today is all about. We’re hoping we can find a few people in the community who have thought about it,” she said.
“We know that kids who have mentors growing up ultimately do better in school, they’re more likely to go onto post-secondary, they report having better mental health. There are a number of factors that are achieved just by having an extra person in their life that gives them a high five when they need a high five.”
Littles Build Big features a bouncey castle, face-painting, a barbecue and a dunk tank. Youth HQ executive director Rob Lewis, Red Deer Coun. Victor Doerksen and local RCMP officers were among the dunk tank participants.
Carl Sauve, KCB Cabinets and Renovations owner and CEO, and his wife Anna were mentors with Big Brothers Big Sisters for three or four years before children of their own.
“When we went through the process of looking for a mentee, there was this massive waitlist of kids,” Sauve recalled.
“A lot of them just needed some guidance. When we had our mentee, we would go into the garage and build still. It was so exciting because he’d never used a tape measure before.”
The Littles Build Bigger event was born as a way to bring awareness to how long the waitlist is and to teach youths had to use tool boxes.
“We’re fortunate enough to have some people donate money so we could go out and buy tools. Kids here today and building tool boxes and they’ll get to leave with a whole bunch of nice tools – it’s kind of like a starter kit,” he said.
Serving as a mentor is a great way to give back to the community, Sauve added.
“I think the youth are a really important aspect of that because that’s where it starts. You can teach them some good habits,” he said.