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Student to Student

My experience as a ‘Big Sister’

About a month ago, I started volunteering at a local elementary school with a grouped called Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Big Brothers Big Sisters is a program in communities across the country that helps children who experience adversity realize their potential by being matched with volunteers to create a supported one-on-one relationship.

The first time I heard about the program that works with kids ages 6 to 18 was when I was searching online for volunteer opportunities.

Being a part of the National Honor Society at Park City High School, I must complete hours of volunteer work for our community.

I get along with kids and enjoy teaching, so I decided to interview for Big Brothers Big Sisters. As soon as I matched with my "little," or mentee, I couldn't wait to start.

My experience as a mentor has been nothing but fun so far. My 8-year-old "little sister" is full of enthusiasm and spirit, and I couldn't be happier to be her "big sister."

Growing up, I always wished for a little sister because I wanted to be someone who was considered a role model. That feeling of someone looking up to you and knowing that you're making a difference in that person's life was what I wanted to experience.

That opportunity remained a dream until I started volunteering. I didn't know it would happen when I started, but after a few weeks, the relationship I developed with my mentee is very strong, like a sister bond. She looks up to me like I'm her actual big sister. The fact that I'm changing her life for the better is the best feeling.

The program takes place one hour each week at the elementary schools those enrolled in Big Brothers Big Sisters attend. During that hour, mentors help the kids with their homework, and then spend the remaining time playing games.

I feel over the course of five weeks I already have a relationship with the little girl I see once a week. I can see a lot of personality shining through her, and I think that's the reason we get along so well.

I know this program is designed to help and inspire children in need, but I can honestly say I've been inspired as well. My companion is constantly teaching me new things, and I cherish every moment we spend together. Also, I enjoy seeing how she has progressed over the weeks when it comes to school work, which makes me feel I'm helping her succeed one problem at a time.

Lacey Cole-Rae, the group's manager for Summit and Wasatch Counties, said mentoring benefits children.

"Kids with mentors have better attitudes toward school and education," she said. "They are less likely to engage in risky behavior, and they have better relationships with their peers and families."

This organization is very inspiring to everyone that is part of it. The relationship between the big sisters and little sisters is very special and unique with each pair.

I want all the littles out there, especially my own, to know they can achieve anything they put their mind to.

I hope that more people join this program because the impact it has is tremendous. People don't realize the benefit a caring and consistent mentor can have in a child's life. Also, the mentor is rewarded with the feeling of satisfaction, knowing they've changed a child's life for the better.