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Big brothers, big sisters: helping young children since 1904

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Big Brothers Big Sisters´ idea of helping young children that haven’t had many privileges in life is through an “older” example so they can understand and live their life in a productive, honest and safe way.

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Big brothers, big sisters: helping young children since 1904

  1. 1. Big brothers, big sisters: helping young children since 1904 By Yosef Meystel Image courtesy of Amy Claxton at Flickr.com
  2. 2. Imagine a big family with a lot of siblings and a dynamic of education and support. The older siblings teach the young ones to face life and pass them information based on their experience and the things they have lived. It is a small scale mentoring program. Well, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago works the same way but in a much larger scale. Big Brothers Big Sisters´ idea of helping young children that haven’t had many privileges in life is through an “older” example so they can understand and live their life in a productive, honest and safe way. This charity uses a mentoring style program, like the mentoring a big brother or a big sister can give you when you are young, to teach the children that are part of the program. In this program, the big brothers or big sisters are called Bigs and the mentees or little brothers and sisters are called Littles. Let’s take a look at their story and the proven impact they have had in the community across Chicago and the country.
  3. 3. It all started in 1904, when a young New York City court clerk named Ernest Coulter was witnessing a phenomenon that caught his attention: he was seeing more and more boys come through his courtroom involved in minor problems due to inactivity or lack of support or education. He quickly saw that adults could be involved in a child´s life by helping them through some obstacles in life and to have hope on what they were doing as human beings. In addition, these adults could also help some children to literally stay out of trouble and live a productive life. In this same moment, the Big Brothers movement was technically born. Around the same years, a movement called Ladies of Charity, which would later become Catholic Big Sisters, was appearing, and their mission was to reach out to girls that were passing through New York children´s court and help them do their social rehab process.
  4. 4. These two organizations later in the years crossed their paths and in 1977 they were officially named “Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America”. They had worked in many projects before, but it was this year that they officially joined forces and became what they are nowadays. In 1968, the Big Brothers association was included in the Chicago chapter and the named was changed to the Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago. After many important events and many members that came and went, in 2007 Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago acquired DuPage County, IL and Lake County, Indiana and made them part of their events and programs. And in 2010 , Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago merged with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lake County, Illinois.
  5. 5. After more than 100 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago remains true to its principles and the idea that motivated them to start and grow -bringing caring role models into the lives of children- is still intact. Today, Big Brothers Big Sisters has a proven impact in the community and the children that they educate. In 1994 and 1995, Public/Private Ventures, an independent Philadelphia-based national research organization, looked at over 950 boys and girls from eight Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies across the country. The agencies were selected for their large size and geographic diversity. The results were amazing and prove that in an era where teenagers are considered impossible to reach, even though there are so many ways to communicate, there is still hope to communicate with them.
  6. 6. From the 950 chosen children, almost half of them were randomly chosen to be matched with a Big Brother or Big Sister. The others that didn’t get a mentor were assigned to a waiting list. The matched children met with their Big Brothers or Big Sisters for a year, every 3 months. Researchers surveyed both the matched and unmatched children and their parents on two occasions, when they first applied for a Big Brother or Big Sister, and the other one again 18 months later. Here are some approximate results for the Chicago area and their teenagers that were within the program and had a Big assigned for them: They were 46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs; They were 27% less likely to begin using alcohol They were 52% less likely to skip school They were 37% less likely to skip a class They were 33% less likely to hit someone The Littles (young teenagers that are part of the program) were more confident of their performance in schoolwork and getting along better with their families. This study proves that Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago is having a great impact on their area of influence. You can find more information at www.bbbschgo.org

Big Brothers Big Sisters´ idea of helping young children that haven’t had many privileges in life is through an “older” example so they can understand and live their life in a productive, honest and safe way.

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