The Youth and Volunteer Centre of Red Deer is receiving a boost from the provincial government as part of a new campaign calling for more adult mentors for children and adolescents.
Alberta’s Human Services Department announced on Wednesday it will invest $365,000 in the Big Brothers and Sisters organizations in Edmonton and Calgary, as well as the centre in Red Deer. The funding is to help attract, train and match mentors with children in the care of the province.
About $60,000 will go to the Red Deer centre’s mentorship program, also known as Big Brothers, Big Sisters, said Dawn Flanagan, acting executive director at YVC.
The goal is to match 34 more young people with mentors. The local program currently has about 45 mentors.
“We could see hundreds of kids, though, if we had them mentored. … Hopefully we’ll add to it and hopefully, with the government behind this now, we’ll get more corporate mentors,” Flanagan said.
Six new mentors have been screened and are ready to start.
“We’ve met with Child Welfare so we’re ready to start taking referrals at any time now,” she said.
Big Brothers, Big Sisters involves spending one-on-one time with a child or youth once a week.
“It’s to be their friend. They’re not their parents, you don’t have to give them money. It’s to make a difference in their lives,” said Flanagan.
“There’s a real need. Kids in care really miss that connection with a caring adult that’s not paid because they don’t have their parents.
“All the people in their lives are paid.”
The province’s mentor recruitment initiative, titled #8000mentors, is hoping to attract more mentors from aboriginal and ethno-cultural communities who can share cultural experiences and community connections with young people of similar backgrounds.
TransCanada is also contributing $45,000 to the provincial campaign. “Many children come into our care without role models in their lives.
“Having just one positive, constant influence can mean the difference between a pathway of hope over a path of despair,” said Manmeet Bhullar, minister of Human Services, in a news release.
“By spending even an hour a week, you can be a hero to a child in need and change their life.”
To become a mentor, visit albertamentors.ca/8000mentors.