(l to r: City of Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer, Program Director Dawn Flanagan, MLA for Red Deer-South Jason Stephan, Executive Director Rob Lewis, Board Chair Randy Nicholls)
At a presentation in City Hall Park this morning, Mayor Tara Veer declared the month of September 2020 as “Big Brothers Big Sisters Month” in Red Deer. The small gathering, attended by program staff as well as MLA for Red Deer-South Jason Stephan, recognized the ongoing need for mentoring support in the community.
The proclamation comes at a time when most students are returning to school. “This month is critical as we focus on children’s health and wellbeing, especially during the current pandemic,” said Rob Lewis, Executive Director at Youth HQ. “With students returning to school under new circumstances, we want to ensure they’re supported in whatever means necessary – and that includes mentoring. Mentoring is an essential service; it doesn’t stop and never did.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) programs in Red Deer and area offered virtual opportunities beginning in March and continued to support their mentoring programs throughout the summer. More recently, mentoring has continued virtually and in-person where possible following physical distancing and public health guidelines.
“Whether they are at home or in the classroom, we know that Big Brother Big Sisters mentors will continue to support students through mentoring programs, encouraging engagement and strengthening mentees’ motivation to achieve”, stated Matthew Chater, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada in a release.
BBBS of Red Deer and District continues to recruit mentors with diverse backgrounds and lived experiences to support children and youth who are waiting for a caring adult mentor in their lives. In January, they set a goal of recruiting 75 new adult mentors this year and have presently reached 40% of that goal.
Most children and families served by Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies in Canada are facing increased anxiety, stress, and are most likely to bear the heaviest burdens of trauma and economic hardship due to the pandemic. Research shows that mentoring can build a child’s resiliency, enabling them to maintain health and wellbeing in the wake of stressful situations. This resiliency is built through the consistent, intentional and personalized support that a mentor provides to their mentee.
For more information, to donate or to become a volunteer mentor, visit youthhq.ca/bbbsrd.