Big Brothers Big Sister boost youths’ self-worth

There’s a myriad of outside forces influencing kids’ self-image and not all of them are necessarily positive.

There’s a myriad of outside forces influencing kids’ self-image and not all of them are necessarily positive.

To combat this, Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) Canada has initiated a program to help girls and boys see themselves in a healthy light and they are reaching almost all the schools in Ponoka County. Game On! for boys and Go Girls! is designed to give kids aged 12 to 14 years old tools to making healthy decisions, says BBBS executive director Beth Reitz.

Both courses provide similar lessons but are presented in a way each group can identify with. Trained mentors will show students the importance of strong and positive self-reflection.

“It’s such a need with kids right now,” explained Reitz.

As this is the first year of the program in Ponoka, BBBS was able to use funding to educate students in Grades 6 to 8. Next year Reitz expects to see mentors teach one grade rather than three. She wanted to get to as many students this year as possible. It is a “time where we feel we can have impact on these topics.”

Game On! delves into issues boys face as they become young men and provides positive tools to deal with challenges. Go Girls’! slogan is Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds. Mentors with Go Girls! talk about healthy choices and addresses relationship issues and participation in physical activities. Reitz hopes kids come out of the program healthier physically but also mentally and emotionally. “Our goal is just that kids become more resilient and more healthy.”

All schools in British Columbia’s Okanagan have adopted the program which Reitz feels is a proactive approach to building strong personalities. “It builds self-confidence, which enables them to be strong community builders”

The program provides eight sessions to each group and each session discusses active living, balanced eating and positive self-image. Its primary objectives are:

• Providing youth with tools to have a healthy lifestyle.

• To build confidence and strong self-esteem.

• To develop leadership and life skills.