After recognizing the impact a service project initiated by a Big-Little match had on the community and the youth who planned the event, Big Brothers Big Sisters developed a pilot program to help female matches pursue leadership and service activities.
The Little who inspired the service learning project idea was very shy when she was first matched with her Big. With encouragement from her mentor, the Little was able to grow her confidence and self-efficacy, starting by ordering her food at restaurants.
Within a year, the Little had developed the confidence to plan and host a service project.
The Little took control of planning the ice-skating event for matches in the La Crosse community. She found sponsors and donors for the event, something that she would not have been comfortable doing before she developed her speaking skills and confidence.
According to Kate Bickett, BBBS Community Relations Manager, the service learning project and the skills required to successfully plan and host an event highlight the cornerstones of building resilience in youth.
Big Brother Big Sister matches are paired based on mutual interests and similarities in personality, which gives matches a chance to pursue activities that they both enjoy.
Taylor Passel, a Big Sister, explained that playing games is one of her favorite activities to do with her match. The match wanted to share their love for games with others while giving back to the community through a Valentine’s Day Bingo event for residents at a nursing home.
In the six months since Taylor was matched with her Little, the pair have become great friends and developed their relationship. The pair is looking forward to doing something different from their usual activities while also impacting others.
Service learning projects give youth the opportunity to step outside of their comfort zone with the guidance of their Big Sister. Throughout this process, the Big is able to impart skills and confidence into their Little Sister. And as Bickett noted, “By expanding possibilities for the Little Sister, she is learning that anything is possible.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters piloted the service learning project in 2019. The organization currently has 89 female matches who have the opportunity to pursue a service project through this grant.