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From Our Volunteers



Fatoumata Boucare is one of our practicum students enrolled in the Child and Youth Care Program at VIU. She wanted to share her experiences working with us this year.

She initially heard about our agency through the Practicum Coordinator at VIU and was interested in being part of the team. She worked at Brechin and Forest Park Schools in Nanaimo doing one on one mentoring as well as facilitating a Go Girls group at both schools.

With regard to one on one mentoring, she said "It was a really great experience. It was great to build one on one relationships with these kids". She mentored 4 children: 2 boys and 2 girls. "I learned to become a role model in their life and I had to build a safe comfort zone for them. One girl in particular was very resistant at first, but by the 2nd semester she opened up. I would attribute that to consistency, being there as expected on a regular basis. I also did not push her, she opened up on her own." Another one of her mentees, a boy was quite withdrawn and did not play with the other kids. "We set a goal together for him to play everyday during recess. He stuck to that goal and ended up making a great friend because of it.", she said.

In talking about her experience facilitating a Go Girls Group, she said, "I led 2 groups, one at each of the schools, Go Girls is really a great program as we all grew from the start.The Girls were able to open up especially when we talked about self esteem and bullying which is something they deal with regularly. I also grew personally in that I gained leadership skills from building relationships with the girls. I am now able to run groups and impact the lives of people in a positive way!", she said.

Her advice to others considering mentoring is to go for it! "It is a great experience. You have to be passionate about working with children and you will find you will grow tremendously as a person! Also Paulyne and the entire agency are excellent people to work with!", she said.



A Testimonial from one of our VIU Practicum Students

Alise McKenzie is a practicum student in her 3rd year of studies in the Child and Youth Care Program at VIU. She had heard of Big Brothers and was volunteering at the Workability Farm when she got to know Paulyne and when practicum time in her program came along, Paulyne offered her an opportunity to work with us!

Alise is working at Springfield Elementary School in Parksville where she is involved in In-School Mentoring (she mentors 3 girls and 1 boy) and also facilitates the Go Girls Program. "I really was excited to do one on one mentoring because before that I had only worked with groups of kids", she said. "This practicum has really given me the opportunity to practice my skills as well as to get integrated into the community." When asked what challenges she has encountered so far, she said "Sometimes they have a hard time opening up. I have also encountered a few behavioral challenges but nothing overwhelming. But I really see the benefits of mentoring to the kids, they get to have one on one attention that they desperately need and I have learned that to befriend a child, you need to meet them at their level.

Her feedback on facilitating the Go Girls program has been equally positive, "I run one group of 6 girls in grades 6 and 7. I have never ran a group by myself before so it has been a real growth experience for me I have also learned leadership skills


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Melissa is a practicum student from VIU and wanted to relate her experience as an In-School Mentor. "I was familiar with Big Brothers Big Sisters and I wanted to get some first hand experience dealing with children, especially experience dealing with them one-on-one", she said. Melissa did in-school mentoring at Brechin and Park Avenue schools in Nanaimo.

She mentored 4 boys in total and this was a stretch for her as she had no experience in dealing with young boys. She said it was difficult in the beginning as some of the boys were socially awkward. "Some boys liked to run or play tag, while others liked Art or coloring", she said. She found that over time the boys really came out of their shells and became excited to see her. "I found that just spending time with them was invaluable, not telling them what to do", she said. She also said that one boy in particular was kind of a bully, but stopped bullying other kids. Another boy was very quiet for 3 months, but now has opened up.

When asked what advice she would give to current or prospective in-school mentors, she said "You may not feel you are making a difference, but don't give up." She also said that the experience has caused her to grow as a person. "I learned the value of a relationship" she said. "I have found that being an in-school mentor has made me a more patient and understanding person. I would definitely recommend it to anyone".



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Olivia has been one of our invaluable practicum students from The Child and Youth Care Program at VIU this year. She heard about our agency through other practicum students who had a good experience with us. She also heard how helpful our caseworker, Paulyne was and since she wanted some extra support with her practicum, decided to work with us.

"This experience was brand new and different for me, as I have never worked hands on with children before", she said. She was very pleased with the support she got, "I got 100% the best support, ever!", she said.

Part of her practicum experience was working in the school setting, both as a mentor and in the Go Girls Program. "When I first started mentoring all 4 of my kids were nervous:, she said. "I learned patience, to be in the present and leave my outside life at the door. When working with different kids little things really do make an impact", she added, "This practicum taught me how to be a professional". Olivia also acquired some brand new skills such as grant writing and program planning, all things that will assist her in her future career goal of working in Child Protection.






Meadow is one of our dedicated Practicum Students from the Child and Youth Care Program at VIU. She wanted to share her experience working in the Go Girls Program.

"My Practicum leader told me about the program and I used to be in a Girl's Group myself which really helped me a lot, so I became interested in Go Girls", she said. "I wanted to help other girls with their self confidence and to help them live an active lifestyle", she added.

The Go Girls Program is a program for girls consisting of 8 mentoring sessions held on school grounds during the lunch hour or after school. Go Girls covers important topics specifically tailored for girls such as self esteem, healthy eating, physical activity and communication skills.

Meadow helped facilitate the program at Brechin and Fairview Schools in Nanaimo. Most of the groups consisted of 4 to 5 girls and numbered up to 7. "The girls just loved it!", she said. "There was a great mix of different learning activities with more active things to do which kept the girls engaged", she said. "Go Girls covers a lot of important topics, such as diet which often gets ignored these days", she added. "I really noticed a big improvement in the confidence of the girls and the girls that weren't that active got to try different things to keep active, I also saw less bullying and more friendship in the girls", she said. "I think Go Girls is a really good initiative that every school should offer!", she added.




"In 2004, I signed up to become an in-school mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters. My mentee is in Grade 2 and her and I are able to do many things in order to improve her self-esteem and interest in school. My mentee's face lights up when she sees me at her classroom door...Big Brothers Big Sisters have allowed my mentee the opportunity to grow through the difficulties in her life and has allowed me to help. I gain more and more evidence of the positive effects that my mentee is receiving due to Big Brothers Big Sisters every week.There are still more children who are in need of a program such as the programs that Big Brothers Big Sisters have to offer."

- In-school Mentor

"I first started mentoring as a grade 12 student in 2004 and I still volunteer at Cole Tyee school every Friday. Mentoring changes the lives of young people every day. Classroom teachers frequently report improvement in the child's confidence, speech, work ethic, behaviour and interaction with others. As well, parents are gratified that their child is receiving individual attention and encouragement. However, mentoring does not only affect the mentee, but also the mentor. I have had the great pleasure of mentoring a little girl. Mentoring has changed my life. It has filled a hole in my heart: the gift of giving. Over the past 2 years I have grown very close to my mentee and hope to work with her for many years to come."

I trust I have provided a picture of the enormous difference Big Brothers Big Sisters continually makes in the community. I most heartily endorse Big Brothers Big Sisters as a candidate for well spent funding."

- In-school Mentor
Cole Tyee School


"Please consider this letter my very strong support of all the programs of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Vancouver Island. I am in my third year with this program. During that time I have been at the same school and I have the same two children. I have watched them develop and mature.

The first year I had a difficult time understanding how my presence in their lives was of any use to them. The second year I began to understand just how important the attention I gave them was and now in my third year I see them blossoming.

Some of these children come from horrific circumstances. Some come from homes that don't give them the attention they need. Some don't see themselves pretty enough, athletic enough or popular enough.

I now believe coming back each week gives their lives an anchor, a reason to trust and believe and a role model... Just like a Grandma."

- In-school Mentor
Brechin School

"As a volunteer in the teen in-school mentoring program, I have seen firsthand the benefits of such a program. To me, mentoring is the chance to guide a child in a positive way to become a well adjusted member of society. Once a week I visit my little buddy at his school; we play sports, read together, make crafts and essentially spend quality time together.

I do feel that I have made a difference in my buddy's life. He runs to the door to greet me whenever I come to class. He has become less shy around me and already is showing more confidence in his speech. I have been well supported by the BBBS agency. I have recieved quality training and preparation. I truly believe this program is beneficial not just to mentors and children but for the entire community. It is programs like this that make our world a better place to live in."

- Teen in-school mentor

"...I was surprised to find out that not every school in District 69 has BBBS's in-school mentoring program due to a lack of volunteers. I assumed that all of the elementary schools and middle school had a mentoring program. I made this assumption because of the obvious benefits that can come from this mentoring program. I believe that more people would be interested in making a difference in a child's life if they knew how and where to volunteer."

- In-school mentor

“Being a Big Brother has given me a purpose in life”

- Big Brother since 2002


“When I had to say goodbye to my mentee in June, it actually hurt!”

- In-School Mentor,
Brechen School


Why not start something yourself?

Volunteer to be a mentor today!