Many kids dream about being police when they grow up, and now Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver (BBGV) is helping children find mentors in the RCMP. This recently launched project is a collaboration between BBGV and Surrey RCMP’s Youth Unit.
Constable Karen Baker has been volunteering as a Big Brothers mentor to 12-year old James* since February. Karen is the School Resource Officer for Guildford Park Secondary and its feeder schools. Her work has her interacting regularly with school staff, parents, and youth, but this volunteer mentorship has given her a chance to build a deeper friendship with her mentee.
“James is a very positive young man. He has become more open since our first meeting and recently expressed his trust in me,” explains Baker. “He enjoys playing basketball, an activity we often do together.” She adds that James has a lot of potential as an athlete.
Through BBGV’s In-School Mentoring program, Karen visits James at his school for one hour a week. They spend quality time together playing sports, reading, or doing crafts. This adds to the positive experiences that children and youth have with police. “By being in the schools, youth see that police are part of their community too,” explains Baker.
“In the past, it was all too common for children to interact with police only in situations of trouble. We’re working to change that,” explains Valerie Lambert, Big Brothers’ Executive Director. Big Brothers has built similar partnerships with police departments in Vancouver, Burnaby, and North Vancouver.
From her years of service in the RCMP, Baker has seen that negative behaviours can afflict children from all income levels, races, and family situations. “However, I have seen that youth with positive role models are more likely to make positive choices more often,” she says. “Engaged youth feel more acceptance and value, which encourages them to make better choices and reach out when in need.”
Big Brothers currently has a waitlist of up to two years for children in Surrey to be matched with a volunteer mentor. We offer flexible volunteer opportunities to teens and adults of all genders, including one-to-one, in-school, and group mentoring programs. Learn more about how you can volunteer or donate to help children in Surrey: www.bigbrothersvancouver.com or call 604-876-2447 ext. 236.
*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the child