Shaye has quickly become one of Brooklyn’s favourite people. Their worlds came together when they were matched through Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS).
“One of my best friends lives in Calgary, and she’s part of the program there,” Shaye says. Though not necessarily looking for a mentorship opportunity, hearing about her friend’s positive mentorship experiences and the impact she had made on her mentee convinced Shaye to join the Regina chapter. She signed up at the end of her school semester, just as spring was starting.
“I didn’t really have anybody to look up to while growing up,” she says about why she made that decision. “So, now I can be that role model for someone else. It’s what I want to do with my life, working with youth, and it’s even what I’m in school for now.”
That was around the same time that Brooklyn was signing up, too. “My mom wanted me to get involved because I had no one to hang out with and she wanted me to experience new things,” she explains. Brooklyn’s mother is a working single mom to herself and her three brothers, and time is always at a premium. BBBS seemed like a great way to provide Brooklyn with a strong guide and role model.
Shaye could not ask for a better introduction to her chosen career path: working with youth in the community. Every time she and Brooklyn get together, it’s a recipe for a whole lot of fun – their time together includes movie screenings, park visits, swimming (one of Brooklyn’s favourite things to do), shopping, and even attending a Roughriders game at Mosaic Stadium. Moments like these are a joy for both Little and Big Sister alike, with BBBS often providing tickets to community events for them to experience together, thanks to corporate partners.
These activities reinforce a relationship that’s always growing. They provide a foundation not only for Brooklyn and Shaye to build on, but also the people around them. “I’ve built a good connection with her family, and her brothers,” Shaye says (in fact, sometimes her brothers join their activities). “I think she knows I’ll always be here to talk to, even as she gets older.”
Even after they move into the ‘graduated match’ phase – two years into the pairing, when BBBS takes a backseat to the genuine relationship that has formed – Shaye is confident that they will remain close. “That’s one of the benefits of Big Brothers Big Sisters. To build something lifelong.”
BBBS has provided Brooklyn with a role model and a friend that has helped her overcome her shyness, and Shaye with an opportunity for a fun break from a life full of responsibility. “When I first joined, I thought it would just be something nice for a young person, but it’s also great for me, too. Sometimes, it’s refreshing to be around kids, and see the world through their carefree eyes. It’s nice to just be present and have a fun time together.”
Though she might say so in her own enthusiastic way, Brooklyn clearly agrees. “You should join [BBBS] because then all the kids can go out and do the things they normally couldn’t. We do lots of things I couldn’t do before.” Shaye adds: “The program is really beneficial, the way it helps kids and families. They get opportunities they would never have had otherwise. Before I joined, I didn’t know what BBBS was all about, but now that I’m here, I see what they’re doing. On social media, in the community, in my life and her life.”
BBBS is to thank for this amazing friendship – one that is sure to last a lifetime.