At Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto, we are continually seeking ways to support youth and children in Toronto so that they are able to thrive in life.
In partnership with the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto (CAST), we are currently running a program called Big Steps to Success. This mentorship program is designed to improve the educational outcomes for 7-14 year old children and youth involved with child welfare.
One of the amazing Bigs involved in this pioneering program is Julianna. We recently spoke with Julianna about her relationship with her Little, Sarah*, and how their connection has been impacting Julianna’s life.
*The child’s name has been changed for privacy and confidentiality
“By becoming a Big I am reminded that growth takes many forms – not just
from the big moments in life, but the small steps and moments that build
something. That, and the bond that I am growing with my Little is
– Julianna, Big Volunteer in Big Steps for Success
What does being a Big mean to you?
Being a Big means gaining an amazing friendship with my Little. It means being a fun, accountable and supportive person for my Little.
What inspired you to sign up as a mentor?
After some reflection, I recognized that in my life I had been fortunate enough to have some amazing mentors. I thought about the confidence that they helped me build and the challenges that they each gave me to help develop. I considered my current skillsets and did some research on ways that I could get involved with mentorship and becoming a Big seemed like a natural progression.
What has been the most rewarding part of being a Big?
One of the most invaluable things that I have gained is the reminder that it’s important to do things out of your comfort zone. There’s a huge amount of vulnerability that is needed from both you and the Little and it comes in many forms: Meeting someone new, learning how to communicate with them, finding trust in one another, and taking part in activities that you may not be familiar with. By becoming a Big I am reminded that growth takes many forms – not just from the big moments in life, but the small steps and moments that build something. That, and the bond that I am growing with my little is invaluable.
What’s your favourite thing about your Little?
I am constantly learning new things about my Little that I admire! She is naturally very athletic, observant and curious. However, I am always struck by her kindness toward others. She is so genuine and funny as well!
What are some of your favourite things to do with your Little?
My favourite things to do with my little are swimming, making slime, and skating. However I find some of my favourite moments with my Little when we have a few minutes in the car before and after our activities talking to one another.
Has there been an area of your Little’s life that you’ve been working on/seen improvement in?
My Little and I have just been getting to know each other by trying sports we are familiar with, however, we just tried skating. It was the first time that she had ever skated. She was nervous at first and voiced her concern about her capabilities. When she first put her blades to the ice she was unsure BUT SHE STILL TRIED IT! I was so proud and amazed by her determination to try something scary and new. She was able to begin learning how to glide across the whole rink and left enthused and determined to be able to learn hockey by the end of the year. I hope to continue this practice in other realms of her life in the future.
If you’re looking to positively influence a child’s life and experience a life-changing bond like Julianna has with her Little Sarah, sign up to volunteer for the Big Steps to Success Program:
1. Apply here: https://toronto.bigbrothersbigsisters.ca/volunteer/
2. Reach out to Rhiannon Petrycka to let her know you are interested in becoming a volunteer mentor for Big Steps to Success! Rhiannon can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (416) 925-8981 ext. 4164