Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada
Centennial Launch/Big Shout Out/DeWit Study
We are declaring 2013 the year of youth mentoring.
Big Brother Big Sisters is celebrating its 100th birthday with a year-long public awareness campaign to provide Canadians with fresh insights into the societal value of youth mentoring.
To build understanding and community support for youth mentoring, we are planning an entire series of research-based information campaigns – each exploring a different facet of youth mentoring – that demonstrates how Big Brothers or Big Sister volunteers change the trajectory of young lives.
In particular, Canadians are going to be hearing a good deal about how volunteer Big Brothers and Big Sisters are helping youth in need of guidance find a better path in life. Every day our volunteers create little miracles by listening, spending time, talking and setting a positive example. We are going to tell their stories and the stories of the children and teenagers they mentor.
One of the standout events of the Big Brother Big Sisters centennial year will be April’s TheBig Brothers Big Sisters Youth Summit in Ottawa. One hundred of Canada’s most socially engaged teenagers will be descending on Ottawa to speak their minds to political leaders. Drawn from the ranks of Big Brother Big Sister mentoring programs across Canada, these youth ambassadors will be expressing their ideas about issues that matter to them.
The summit is designed to give these mentored teenagers a forum to express their views and ideas to their MPs. This is a unique event that will provide Canada’s political leaders with a rare glimpse into the mindset of today’s youth. It will also showcase how effectively our mentors have instilled the values of giving back, academic achievement and respect for family and others.
Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies across Canada are also hosting a wide range of community special events to pay tribute to the contributions of volunteer mentors past and present and how their work has benefited local children and teens and strengthened our communities. [Executive Directors: List and promote your local events.]
The Big Shout Out
Our centennial celebration of mentoring is also about inspiring more acts of mentoring. We want to recognize the millions of Canadians who have positively influenced people close to them – be they parents, an aunt or uncle, a coach, a teacher, an employer, a friend or a volunteer Big Brother or Big Sister.
We are challenging Canadians of all ages and walks of life to step up and pay tribute to the ones who, through their advice and example, showed them a better way. Big Brothers Big Sisters intents to start a national conversation about these special people and how they have influenced the lives of people they care about.
We invite people to use the connectivity of the internet to give their favourite mentor a “big shout out”. People can tell their personal mentoring stories by visiting www.thebigshout.ca.
Help us spread the word about the power of mentors to help others find the right path in life. Tell your mentoring story. And share the wisdom it contains, so that we inspire more acts of mentoring.
The National Research Study
Canada’s first national youth mentoring research project is one of the largest mentoring studies ever conducted anywhere. Its implications are so profound that we believe this research will usher in a new era for Big Brothers Big Sisters.
The scope of this ground-breaking study is national and regionally representative. The five-year research project tracks the experience of almost 1,000 children and teenagers registered with Big Brother agencies.
We believe that the legacy of this watershed research will be longer and more successful matches.
Over time, the study’s in-depth findings will identify the processes that actually lead to the most positive outcomes based on gender, age, family situation, personal situation and cultural identity. This means that in the months and years ahead Big Brothers Big Sisters will be able to tailor mentoring more closely to the individual needs of children and teenagers.
Almost every aspect of how we mentor will be impacted by this study’s findings. Expected process changes include: more specialized pre-match training for the child, parents and volunteer mentor, so they we can better manage expectations; more effective match support and earlier detection of special needs.
The research confirmed that those children in the study with a mentor are significantly more confident in their academic abilities and considerably less likely to develop behavioural problems.
One standout finding is that girls in the study with a Big Sister were four times less likely to bully, fight, lie, or express anger than girls without a mentor.
The study also found:
- Girls with a Big Sister are two and a half times more likely than girls without a mentor to be confident in their ability to be successful at school.
- Boys with a Big Brother are three times less likely than boys without a mentor to suffer peer pressure related anxiety, such as worrying about what other children think or say about them.
- Mentored boys are two times more likely to believe that school is fun and that doing well academically is important.
- Mentored boys are also two times less likely than non-mentored boys to develop negative conducts like bullying, fighting, lying, cheating, losing their temper or expressing anger.
The breadth and detail of this study is such that these current findings are just a small sample of what will be released in the months and years to come. Each new release of findings will further illuminate the extent to which mentored children do better; why mentored children do better; for whom mentoring achieves the greatest benefit and Big Brother Big Sister agency practices that lead to the most successful mentoring relationships.
Each child and teenager in the study group was interviewed at six month intervals. Researchers also discussed the child or teenager’s situation with their parents and their Big Brother or Big Sister. By comparing and contrasting the actions, perceptions and attitudes of the three partners in the mentoring relationship, researchers were able to identify the processes that actually contributed to achieving positive outcomes.
The study was conducted by a team of academics led by Dr. David DeWit, a senior research scientist with the Centre for Addiction and Health in London, Ontario, and Dr. Ellen Lipman, a psychiatrist and Professor at McMaster University in Hamilton.
The work of this outstanding research team, so ably led by Dr. DeWit and Dr. Lipman, will benefit Canadian children and teenagers for generations to come. We are also most appreciative of the $1.7 million grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, which made this landmark research possible.
Click to view the January 2013 press release