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Big Brothers and Big Sisters are ready to offer matches in Southgate

More positive views of school and boosts in self-confidence are two of the outcomes for children in the Big Brothers and Big Sisters programs, Southgate council heard recently.

“We can ignite that potential and we can ignte that spark,” said board president and long-time Big Brother Andy McKee.

The organization was once limited to Owen Sound, but is now offering services throughout Grey-Bruce

He asked if Southgate could promote the program, and boost awareness that it’s available. He also requested that the township provide a link to the organization on its website.

Both volunteers and those who think their kids could benefit are encouraged to contact the group.

Most people think about the traditional “One to One” match, where “Bigs” and “Littles” meet one hour per week. Right now that’s virtual, or by telephone or maybe playing a game together online.

The group’s mentorship coordinator Mandi Lamb explained that Littles are from ages six to 16, and Bigs are over 18, except if the mentoring is in-school, being 17 is possible because of the supervised setting.

There are about 113 Little and 90 Bigs. To assure safety, volunteers submit an application online and supply three reference, then have a one-hour interview and a home check as well as a police check.

The group also has a “Couples Match” option, as well as a program where the mentoring is offered in school.

Then there’s “Big Bunch,” in which there are large group activities including those who are matched and those who are waiting to be matched.

Other signs of the long-term impact are studies that show that those in the program are less likely to get into high-risk behaviours.

Their annual fundraiser is a bowling event, which they have postponed to April. There will be an online version from Apr. 10 to 25, and they hope for an in-person event Apr. 22-25.

When asked whether there were any youth in Southgate, Ms Lamb said that there are some on the border, but none right in Southgate.

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But, she added, “there’s youth in Southgate that I’m sure are waiting.”
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