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Big Brothers Big Sisters are making big strides

Last Updated Feb 22, 2021 at 12:52 pm MST

Photo courtesy of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Wood Buffalo

Big Brothers Big Sisters are making big moves for youth in Wood Buffalo Region

Mentoring is an important part of youth development, and Big Brothers Big Sisters Wood Buffalo is getting involved

FORT MCMURRAY (660 NEWS) — Studies on mental health and development have found mentoring has a positive impact on children. Big Brothers Big Sisters organizations across Canada work to match youth with adult mentors who can support them throughout their adolescence. Vanessa MacNevin is the executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Wood Buffalo, an organization for youth between six and 18 years of age across the region.

“Our work focuses on providing mentoring relationships for young people who face adversity and are in need of a consistent developmental relationship,” MacNevin says.


AUDIO: 660’s Devon Banfield speaks with Vanessa Macnevin of Big Brothers Big Sisters Wood Buffalo

Big Brothers Big Sisters has ten locations across Alberta, providing several different programs. Their namesake program — Big Brothers Big Sisters — matches a child in need of a mentor with a mentoring volunteer in their community. They also have several in-school programs, including separate programs for male and female students. MacNevin says that it is important to remember the benefits of mentorship on children.

“Mentoring is a critical prevention and early intervention service. So we’re deemed essential during this time, due to the fact that we’re fighting isolation. We are all about building relationships, and what has our province said more than ever? It’s about staying connected, taking care of each other, and being there for each other. That’s what we do every day at our organization,” MacNevin told MyMcMurray.

The organization has seen a huge increase in referrals to their programs, the Wood Buffalo location says that they served 350 children in 2020 alone. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic they have switched gears, moving their programs online. Virtual mentoring includes one-on-one conversations, group mentoring, and in person one-on-one meetings when public health guidelines allow.

MacNevin says that they are always looking for volunteers to become mentors, and that they always have a waitlist of children in the community wanting to be mentored. For more information, or to get involved with the charity visit the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Wood Buffalo website.