Christmas Park Elementary Celebrates 11 Years of In-School Big Brother, Big Sister Program
by Martha Farley
I started working at LBPSB daycares in 1998 at St. Bernard school, now Sunshine Academy. Despite the many distractions children face in the era of television and screen time, it is still possible to help them remain engaged citizens who are involved in the community.
For the past 11 years, Christmas Park Elementary has offered the Big Brother, Big Sister Mentoring Program. In collaboration with Beaconsfield High School and Big Brothers and Sisters of the West Island, it allows students at BHS to mentor younger children in our elementary schools.
Both the mentor and mentee invest their time in building these relationships which sometimes can last for the duration of a student’s elementary years. The relationships that grow out of this program are truly amazing.
Weekly visits take place in the form of many activities like sports, arts and crafts or just catching up, always in a school setting. On many occasions, mentors and mentees form incredible bonds that extend beyond the school mentoring program. Sometimes the older individual ultimately becomes the student’s Big Brother.
It’s rewarding to see how students feel special and important as a result of the friendships they create. Personally, I’ve witnessed this on many occasions with children who may have been feeling lonely or simply too shy to interact with others. They feel very lucky to have found someone who truly listens to them and to whom they can confide in.
For many, it’s simply an opportunity to spend an hour with a friend away from screens. I can say without hesitation that the program allows children to develop meaningful relationships based on trust, honesty, and friendship.
It’s such a thrill to watch a child and a mentor build relationships!