At Valley, Big Brothers Big Sisters is offering elementary students one-on-one mentoring relationships with outstanding high school students through the "school based" version of their program, which aims to foster youth's academic development and improve social skills. A Big Brothers Big Sisters program also exists at neighboring South Bend School District, where 26 elementary students are currently being served.
The mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters is to provide children facing adversity with strong, professionally supported mentoring relationships to help them achieve their highest potential.
Administrators at Willapa Valley intend on their Big Brothers Big Sisters program having a positive impact on students.
"We are very fortunate to have the Big Brothers Big Sisters program starting in our district this year," said Willapa Valley High School Principal Nancy Morris. "I am excited by the large number of students interested in giving of their time to mentor a younger student. Even though we are starting the program in a small way this year, I know it will grow over time, especially when other students seeing those in the program enjoying the shared activities and the relationships formed. Mostly I love that it's kids helping kids - there's nothing better!"
In order to participate, volunteer high school students go through an extensive application process to qualify to serve as a role model and become "Big Brothers" or "Big Sisters". Teachers identify those children who can most benefit from an additional caring mentor in their lives, and those students become "Little Brothers" and "Little Sisters". "Bigs" then meet with their "Littles" for one hour every week for a minimum of a year to play games, work on homework, or make crafts.
Studies of children who participate in Big Brothers Big Sisters have proven that strong and consistent mentoring relationships yield a direct and measurable impact on children's lives. "Littles" in Big Brothers Big Sisters across the nation are 46% less likely to begin using drugs, 52% less likely to skip school, and 33% less likely to hit someone. In addition, 100% of "Littles" in Southwest Washington improved their feelings of social acceptance, self-confidence, and expectations to succeed in life after participating in Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington also administers their school-based programs at Centralia, Chehalis, Oakville, Napavine, Toledo, Winlock, South Bend, and Ocean Beach School Districts. The organization does not charge any fees for participation in their program.