For Sharon, taking custody of her granddaughter Allie when she was 2 ½ years old was a life changing experience. Allie had been in foster care prior to living with her grandmother and Sharon wanted to make sure that Allie had the stability and support in her life that she deserved as she was growing up.
Although Sharon was happy to provide a secure home environment and instil good values in Allie, Sharon could see that there were certain things that she just didn’t have the ability to provide. Going to Canada’s Wonderland and window shopping for hours were activities where Sharon didn’t have the time or energy to be able to do at this stage in her life. Sharon knew Allie needed someone closer to her own age with whom she could share these experiences and who could relate to the issues that were important to Allie. When Allie was 7 years old, Sharon called Big Brothers Big Sisters of Peel.
Like many kids today, Allie was having problems connecting with kids her own age and there were cliques at school where she just didn’t seem to fit in. For some young people, this can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation and a lack of belonging that can affect a child's self esteem, potentially impacting their ability to learn and excel. Becoming involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters gave Allie a chance to fit in and experience the support of a mentor while also having fun with other children.
At first Allie was enrolled in the Mississauga Junior Girls Group Program where she went to weekly outings. Allie enjoyed getting out and having fun with the other girls and mentors. After 3 years of being involved in the Group Mentoring Program she developed a strong connection with one of the group leaders, Kristina, who has now become her very own Big Sister.
Sharon describes this as a ‘blessing’ saying that as Allie was getting older she could see that she really needed someone to talk to one to one about things like makeup, shopping and school. Sharon has peace of mind knowing that Allie is well taken care of when she is out with Kristina and that she has another positive person in her life who genuinely cares about her. Sharon values seeing how happy and confident Allie is becoming.
Allie, now 11 years old, describes her first outing with Kristina as a really happy moment in her life. She says that it wasn’t awkward at all. Since their first ice cream outing they have gone on to do many fun activities including swimming, baking, talking, making pizza, window shopping and going to the movies. Allie already sees that Kristina has helped her feel more confident about herself. Kristina has been a great support to her with school, offering good advice, setting goals and working with Sharon to help reinforce things like the importance of trying her best and doing her homework. Kristina also has tried to teach Allie the importance of telling the truth and taking responsibility for your actions.
Sharon is extremely grateful for all the great opportunities that Kristina and Big Brothers Big Sisters have provided for Allie. Allie has been fortunate to have had the fantastic experience of attending Tim Hortons Summer Camp and she also received a brand new bike donated by Mosaic Sales Solutions. Sharon said that Allie would not have ever had either of these experiences without Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Thanks to the incredible support of Sharon, Kristina, Big Brothers Big Sisters, along with all their agency mentors, partners, donors and community friends, Allie continues to participate in positive, life changing experiences that have helped shape her into the incredible 11 year old girl she is today. Through continued support Allie will continue to receive the support she needs to positively impact her future.