Honourable Judges, parents and fellow competitors, I want to talk to you about one of the most precious gifts I have ever received - One that has changed my life, tremendously. That gift is my big sister, Shelby and the organization responsible for connecting the two of us.
Shelby isn’t my big sister by blood but instead she was matched with me through an organization called Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Georgian Triangle. She is VERY special. You see, Shelby chose to commit 2-4 hours of her time, weekly. She went through a screening process to make sure she was a safe adult with positive things to share. And after an interview she was ready for her little sister. Me!
Sometimes when we get together we talk about some of the tough things associated with being a kid... like school, siblings or bullies... and other times we are carefree, we goof around and giggle.
Shelby and I love to watch movies together, play games, do crafts, hike, skate, and even bake.
Once we tried baking Pumpkin peanut butter brownies but we substituted many of the ingredients, TRYING to make it healthier. Well... have you ever heard that expression “it’s the journey, not the destination”? I finally get what that means. We had so much fun mixing everything together but when I bit into those brownies. Ick!!! I did try to pretend they were okay but I was eager to suggest that I should bring them home to share with my family instead. I could tell that my family thought the same thing, they were gagging at every bite. It was like revenge of the little sister and it made the experience that much sweeter.
Maybe you are wondering how someone becomes a little brother or sister. Well, some kids have tougher family situations and need someone positive in their lives and others come from busy families with only one parent... That’s my life in a nutshell. I have a great mom who is very busy trying to take care of everything for everyone. I also have a brother and two sisters and we always have something on the go. It’s really hard to steal some time alone with my mom. Having Shelby in my life gives me the extra 1 on 1 attention I need.
So what does the big brother or sister get out of the relationship? Well, they get a chance to act like a kid, all over again and they also get the satisfaction of making a real difference for a child and maybe even changing the direction of their life.
Studies show that mentoring helps kids stay in school, avoid risky behavior and grow up displaying respect for all. Helping kids reach their full potential can lead to positive community outcomes too, like lower poverty and unemployment rates. It can also lead to safer schools and communities.
Unbelievable, all of those positive changes simply from an adult choosing to be a friend for a kid who needs them! I bet most of the kids in the program don’t even realize how fast their lives are being transformed, because they are too busy.....just being kids and having fun.
Yep, for me, being part of Big Brothers Big Sisters has been one of the most powerful experiences. Only a few years ago I suffered with a condition that made it impossible for me to talk. It wasn’t until I was matched through the program that I came out of that shell and gained some confidence. And here I am today standing before you with LOTS to say. My marks are good, I was chosen as a star camper at camp last summer for being courteous and caring and I was even chosen to be the junior ambassador for our local fair this year. I’m feeling pretty great about the direction my life is taking. But none of these accomplishments would have been as reachable without the kind of support I have received.
Shelby has shown me the importance of volunteering and I have already decided to do my part. I am currently one of the main fund-raisers for Big Brothers Big Sisters, but what I can’t wait for....is my turn to be the Big Sister and teach a little girl all of the special things Shelby has taught me.
Thank you to everyone at the organization, from the Board members to the Staff members and of course, all of the volunteers. And a very special thank you to Shelby for all of the time you give to me – I will always cherish it and make you proud.
by: Little Sister Savannah
from Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Georgian Triangle