Supporting Youth with Potential
In order for the next generation to overcome obstacles and achieve their full potential, they must have a strong support system in place throughout their development. This does not just include things like education and technical skills – it also involves proper role models, new experiences, and an environment that encourages growth and learning.
This atmosphere is what the Big Brothers, Big Sisters organization has always aimed to provide for kids around Saskatchewan as they navigate through their formative years. Their Youth With Potential program, supported by additional funding from Youth + Us, ensures that BBBS has the resources to do so – enabling 66 young people to have a mentor in their lives.
One pair from the BBBS is Luke and Khailo, who have been matched for the last three years in Regina. Khailo, now 15, comes from a single-parent household where he lives with his mother, Randa, who long ago realized the value of a positive male role model on her son. She found a reliable and consistent solution in BBBS and is now an enthusiastic believer in the impact it has had.
“This steadiness and friendship have been a huge asset as my son navigates the sometimes rocky pre-teen and teenager years, including starting high school,” she says. “I can give my son a lot of things, but I couldn’t give him a steady male presence (friend) in his life until we began our relationship with BBBS.”
The difference that that presence makes is noticeable, and Khailo enjoys many new and exciting opportunities that we would not have had otherwise. These range from fun outings, sports, and activities – like paintballing, go-carting, playing racquetball and baseball, and attending Regina Pats hockey games – to more practical abilities that are invaluable for kids to learn. Luke has taught Khailo mechanical skills, the ins and outs of trade work and how to run a small business, how to deal with interpersonal conflicts, and even hands-on training in various home and building projects. For a teenager learning about the world and what hobbies he will enjoy, these different possibilities are crucial in developing strengths, friendships, and even potential career paths.
For several years, BBBS has also provided a reference for Khailo to attend Tim Horton’s camps in the summer. He has moved from being a junior to a senior camper, and may even become a camp counselor in the years ahead to help give back to the programs that have provided him with new opportunities – like hiking through Kananaskis, discovering the lake country of Manitoba, or learning how to raft or rock climb.
In fact, this idea of ‘paying it forward’ is not just unique to the Tim Horton’s programming; Khailo has even talked about wanting to become a Big Brother in the future, to help others who need a steady presence in their life.
“Big Brothers is contributing greatly to fostering a new generation of healthy boys, who are likely to be contributing members of our society,” Randa says about the idea. “He [Khailo] knows what it has meant to him and what young boys are seeking while growing up.”
This is just one story out of many – a testament to how impactful the connections between young people and organizations like BBBS truly are. With truly caring and compassionate people at the helm, BBBS – and partners like Youth + Us – are helping to guide a new generation into a world that will need those skills more than ever.