3 Things You Learn When Mentoring Youth

This month, we sat down with Sebastian, who’s been involved with our Big Brother program for just under a year at this time of writing (March 2020.) He’s relatively new to the process of providing a mentoring relationship with a child, but there’s certain commonalities to his experience that he shares with other mentors that we’ve interviewed. Here’s 3 things you learn when mentoring youth:

That it’s Not Just Babysitting

One of the many fortunate aspects of working with Big Brothers is that you’re able to speak to, and learn from many of the volunteers; everyone in between starting their application, and those who have spent 10+ years as a Big Brother.

One topic that comes up in conversation with those who are about to complete their application is that they’re worried that this opportunity is simply just babysitting – which is not the case. We don’t ask our volunteers to be counselors, therapists, surrogate parents, or superheroes; we simply ask that you’re a consistent, reliable friend, and mentor to whoever you’re matched to.

This was initially something on Sebastian’s mind, but now that he’s spent nearly a year as a volunteer, he notes that “this experience is way more enjoyable than that, and children have such unique personalities, even from a young age.” Also that you get to watch small behavioural changes, and personality growths in your Little Brother, such as “being more confident to speak to the attendant behind the counter” whenever Sebastian and his Little are at a coffee shop or store. Adding it’s such a cool experience watching someone improve their daily habits.”

These small changes seem minimal, but the benefits of growing confidence cannot be overstated.

Both Big and Little Brothers Get to Try New Things

We also hear from many Big Brothers that this opportunity has given them the chance to explore outside of their “bubble” within Greater Vancouver and to ultimately develop a new perspective on their life – Sebastian is no different. Some of the activities that this Big and Little Brother match have been able to do are going to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, playing sports at their local YMCA, Science World, and watching the Toronto Raptors during the playoffs last year at a restaurant.

However, something new for Sebastian’s Little Brother was the time was when they rented bikes to cycle around the Seawall. This was new for his Little and it was something he was hesitant to do. With a little encouragement from Sebastian, they followed through with the bike ride, and Sebastian has seen a consistent change in his Little. “He’s more likely to try new things now, and to confront things regardless of being nervous.”

That it’s More Accessible Than You Might Think

This statement rings true for just about every Big Brother that we have a conversation with. Sebastian is originally from Colombia, and when he made his transition to Vancouver from Toronto, he knew that this was the right time to step up. “Go through the application.” Sebastian advises; “although it’s a commitment of 2-4 hours a week, it might sound like a lot, but it’s very reasonable.”

We hope you found this to be inspirational! It’s evident that through the conversation we had with Sebastian, that he’s getting as much out of this opportunity as his Little Brother is.

Start your journey by learning more today: https://www.bigbrothersvancouver.com/get-involved/volunteer/

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