Outaouais Big Brothers and Big Sisters Club bolsters programming
Dedicated to helping local teenagers thrive through their transition to adulthood, Big Brothers and Big Sisters Outaouais (GFGSO) added a program for 16- to 21-year-olds to its selection of services earlier this year.
Supporting youth entering the adult world, the program pairs older teenagers and young adults with mentors 25 years and older to guide them by forming a friendship, hanging out together, and participating in all sorts of instructive workshops and activities.
The organization's Director General Yvonne Dubé told the Gatineau Bulletin that the program has been a great success so far, with participation numbers already exceeding initial expectations.
"We've already met the objectives the government was asking of us," Dubé said, noting that the government's expected quota was for around 10 pairings.
Noting that the program, throughout the organization province-wide, is subsidized by the Quebec government, Dubé told the Gatineau Bulletin that the GFGSO was already serving the program's age group before the pandemic. It came about as part of its Big Buddies program.
"For us, it was just a transition," Dubé said, noting that the program is run in coordination with the province's Director of Youth Protection (DYP).
Now combining the two programs to call it the Big Buddies/16 to 21 years old program, Dubé explained that it largely serves to help kids involved with the DYP, in youth centres, or being bullied, by matching them with someone they can count on to confidently and successfully navigate their way through a formative stage in their development.
"It includes a lot of guidance for employment, like building a CV, or learning how to drive, for example," Dubé said, noting that the activities also include financial management lessons, and culinary courses. "Those are all things the mentors help teach the kids."
Popular among volunteering mentors as well as the youngsters participating, she said the program currently has around 20 kids registered, the most of any Big Brothers Big Sisters organization in the province.
Since the start of the pandemic, interest in the GFGSO's programs has tripled, Dubé said, while its number of employees has not increased.
Largely self-supported financially and always needing more volunteers, Dubé encourages everyone to give their time, donate funds and find out more about its array of programs on its website - https://outaouais.bigbrothersbigsisters.ca/.
"Yes, we're having great success," Dubé said, stating that all of the GFGSO's programs are axed on the same purpose of growing self-esteem, improving mental health, and building a sense of belonging for kids of all ages and genders. "But we still have more than 80 kids on a waiting list (for all the programs). We need volunteers, we need mentors. We're so happy when we receive one."
Photo credit: Courtesy of Big Brothers Big Sisters Outaouais' Facebook page.
Photo caption: Helping teenagers thrive through their transition to adulthood, Big Brothers and Big Sisters Outaouais (GFGSO) launched its popular program for 16- to 21-year-olds earlier this year. Supporting youths entering the adult world, the program pairs teenagers and young adults with mentors aged 25 years and older to guide them through life, by hanging out and participating in all sorts of instructive workshops and recreational activities together.