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Conversations with Your Little

Written by Heidi Kulicke

Let’s face it, it’s not always easy to know what to talk to your Little about – especially if your Little doesn’t talk much. As a Big, you have the opportunity to make a lasting impact in the life of a child. As you and your Little grow more comfortable with each other, you can start to ask your Little deeper questions that go beyond “How is school going?” and avoid the generic responses you’re likely to receive. Below are some ideas to get the conversation moving.

  • Friendship, Cooperation, and Teamwork

It’s important for kids to develop people skills while they’re young. As a big, you can help move the conversation in this direction by asking questions like, “How can you be a good friend” or “What do you do if you and your friend don’t agree?” This is an opportunity to teach your Little about what a compromise is and why it’s important. Other questions could be, “How do you help a friend who is sad?” You can let your Little know that when a friend is sad they should listen, acknowledge their feelings, and ask how they can help. Or you could ask “Are your classmates nice to each other and are you nice to them?” Being aware of others who are kind or mean will help your Little to choose good friends and better navigate friendships.

  • Feelings and Emotions

It can be difficult for children to understand their emotions and put a label on what they are feeling exactly. By learning how to do this, however, children are better equipped to handle the ups and downs of life. To help your Little understand what he or she is feeling, you can ask questions like, “What do you do when you are mad or sad, and are you ever mean when you’re unhappy?” This gives you the opportunity to suggest positive ways to deal with sadness or anger (reading, music, talking to friends, working out, etc.) Another question you could ask is, “How do you calm down if you are nervous, and what do you get nervous about?” Talk to your Little about different ways to relax and calm down, and what you do when you’re feeling stressed or nervous about something. Anger is a big issue for many children, especially if their home life is less than ideal. You could ask your Little, “What makes you angry and what do you do when you are angry?” Explain to your Little that when they are mad the first thing they should do is stop and think before acting on an impulse. This way they are less likely to regret something later.

  • Building Confidence and Self-Esteem

Learning to adapt to their growing and changing bodies is a challenge for many children. Those who are competitive or compare themselves to their peers often have an especially difficult time. As a Big, you have the opportunity to help your Little feel good about him or herself by recognizing their own strengths. You can ask questions like, “What are you most confident about?” Discuss with your Little the importance of confidence, and build up their confidence by giving them a few compliments. Or you could ask, “What do your friends like about you?” Help your Little understand how others might perceive them, and tell each other what you like about each other. You could also ask, “How would you describe yourself in 5 words?” The way your Little responds to this question is telling. If they don’t say anything positive, help them to recognize their strengths and talents. Tell them they are special and unique and add great value to the world simply by being alive.

It’s important for your Little to know you care about them and wish for their happiness and success, and by asking your Little deeper questions, you have the opportunity to grow closer together. Never underestimate the positive impact you can have on your Little simply by asking meaningful questions and showing you care.

Top 5 Reasons You Should Give A Sh!rt

 

If you’re anything like us, you’ve got a pile of clothing and household items clogging your closets or garage. What if we told you all your clutter could actually make a world of difference for your community?

It absolutely can.

When you donate your unwanted clothing and household items, you do more good for your community than you may even realize. Let’s count down the reasons.

  1. You help us! – Your donations help our cause through the partnership we have with Savers® thrift stores. By donating your unwanted items to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah, you help us with much needed support in serving our shared community.
  2. You help save valuable natural resources – For example, it takes up to 700 gallons of water to make a single new cotton T-shirt. By donating, you help offset the billions of gallons of water and other natural resources used in the production of clothing worldwide.
  3. You help keep items from landfills – The clothing industry is one of the world’s largest polluters, with the average North American throwing 81 pounds of clothing into landfills each year, 95 percent of which could be reused or recycled.
  4. You help reduce stress – Decluttering has been proven to have an immediate benefit to your disposition. Lightening up your closets will help lighten your mood.
  5. You help make somebody’s day – Whether it’s someone hunting for a forgotten thrifting treasure, materials for a DIY project, or an affordable wardrobe, your neighbors will benefit from your donations.

This is only the start. Your donations help your community—all you need to do is unload your stash. You’ll feel better that you did. Donate to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah today by finding one of our donations centers, dropping your items off at a bin, or scheduling a FREE pick-up!

Click Here to Donate

Make your own Solar Eclipse Viewers!

On August 21, North America will be able to view the full solar eclipse in its totality. This eclipse will be occurring from coast to coast, across the continental U.S. It is the first eclipse to do this since 1918 – almost 100 years! This is the perfect opportunity to get out with your family, friends, and Littles to view this natural phenomenon – and learn how to do it safely.

“A total solar eclipse occurs when the disk of the moon appears to completely cover the disk of the sun in the sky. The fact that total solar eclipses occur at all is a quirk of cosmic geometry. The moon orbits an average of 239,000 miles (385,000 kilometers) from Earth — just the right distance to seem the same size in the sky as the much-larger sun. However, these heavenly bodies line up only about once every 18 months… During a total solar eclipse, the disk of the moon blocks out the last sliver of light from the sun, and the sun’s outer atmosphere, the corona, becomes visible. The corona is far from an indistinct haze; skywatchers report seeing great jets and ribbons of light, twisting and curling out into the sky… During totality, the area inside the moon’s shadow is cloaked in twilight — a very strange feeling to experience in the middle of the day. Just before and just after totality, observers can see this cloak of darkness moving toward them across the landscape, and then moving away.” (Total Solar Eclipse 2017: When, Where and How to See It (Safely))

It is important to never look directly at the sun without the right viewing protection, except during totality. There are many ways to safely view an eclipse of the sun including direct viewing – which requires some type of filtering device and indirect viewing where you project an image of the sun onto a screen.

 

Click here for some easy, DIY ways you can safely view the eclipse!

Sources:
http://www.instructables.com/id/Solar-Eclipse-Projects-Easy-and-Advanced/
https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/eclipse-who-what-where-when-and-how
https://www.space.com/33797-total-solar-eclipse-2017-guide.html

 

Qualities of a Good Mentor

 

Do you know if you’d be a good mentor? Do you know what a mentor is? Do you know how a mentor can make a difference?

 

Being a good mentor is hard work, whether you are mentoring a new hire at your company, a nephew, or you’re volunteering as a Big Brother. There are many men in our communities that want to make a difference and be a part of something great, but they may not know where to start or think they don’t have the time. Being a good mentor actually takes less time than you would think. For example, volunteering as a “Big” for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah is a commitment of only 6 – 12 hours a month! A bike ride around their neighborhood, a one-on-one game of basketball, helping them with their homework is all it takes to change a “Little’s” life for the better.

Research has shown that young boys and men that have the support and attention of a mentor for at least 12 months, show improvement in their belief of educational success, avoid engaging risky behaviors, and have better relationships overall with their parents, families, and friends (BBBSU National Survey, MENTOR 2014 Report).

Volunteers come in all shapes, sizes, and ages. Ask yourself – are you doing as much as you can to improve the future of your communities? Do you have what it takes to change someone’s life for the better? Step up, and be the light in a child’s world.

Big Brothers Big sisters of Utah has kicked off the summer of ’17 with a 2-month recruiting campaign, Real Men Mentor – 60 Men 60 Days, June 1 – Aug. 1. BBBSU is calling on caring and dependable men in Utah to step up and volunteer to mentor a Little Brother. On average, BBBSU has 250 boys waiting for a Big Brother of their own. The goal is to work towards filling that gap so no child has to wait more than a year to be matched with a “Big”. Volunteer today!

Congrats, Graduates!

Congratulations!
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself 
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss

Thousands of seniors across Utah are graduating from high school this month. Among those students, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah have 30 Littles in our programs that are graduating as well. We would like to send a special congratulations to them and let them know how proud they should be of their big accomplishment.

Everyone knows that high school is hard. Between maintaining friendships, dating, and extracurricular activities, making your education a priority can be difficult. We hope that the encouragement and support from their Bigs has helped make life a little easier and a lot more fun.

In celebration of our graduating Littles and their Bigs, we held our annual Spring Fling event at the Falls Event Center in Salt Lake City. With the catering provided by Rodizio Grill and Starbucks and the desserts provided by Fresh Market and City Cakes, we were able to spotlight our graduates and present them with certificates and best wishes.

If you know a high school graduate, be sure to congratulate them on this important and significant milestone and give them the best advice on life that you can offer!

Check out our graduate slideshow below!

Student to Student: My Experience As A “Big Sister” by Jessica Curley

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.

Click here to view the article on The Park Record’s website!

2017 National Mentoring Month

 

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah is hoping to ring in the new-year during National Mentoring Month with a powerful bang by raising awareness of the life-changing benefits of one-to- one mentoring and recruiting Big Brother and Sister volunteers. Mentoring relationships have proven to strengthen a child’s ability to thrive educationally and to make positive choices.

BBBSU has 335 children waiting for a mentor today, and we want to raise awareness of the need for mentors in our community during National Mentoring Month. This year we hope to find mentors for 525 children statewide. In total, our goal is to support mentoring for 1,320 children in 2017. About 800 of these matches are ongoing. Our biggest need is recruiting volunteers. “The gift of a mentor is something many of us take for granted,” said Nancy Basinger, president and CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah. “A mentor’s valuable guidance, support and belief in that child reduces risky behaviors in children while increasing their academic achievement, and improving relationships and self-confidence making future success more likely, research has shown.”

To sign up to be a volunteer or to donate to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah, please visit www.mentor.bbbsu.org.

President Obama, Governor Gary Herbert, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, Park City Mayor Jack Thomas, and St. George Major Jon Pike have all designated January as Mentoring Month. Created in 2002 by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership, National Mentoring Month focuses national attention on the need for mentors, as well as how individuals, businesses, government agencies, schools, faith communities and nonprofits can work together to increase the number of mentors to assure positive outcomes for young people. Since 1978 BBBSU has passionately pursued its mission to provide Utah children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally-supported one-to- one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.

On January 17, 2017 and January 24, 2017, Popeyes® stores in, Herriman, Midvale, and West Valley will donate 15% of all sales to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah. The promotion will take place from 5 – 8 p.m. BBBSU personnel will be in store to talk about the non-profit’s mission, and to answer any customer questions. In addition, the retail outlets will provide BBBSU signage and counter jars to collect donations.

Additional National Mentoring Month activities include:

  • Public Service Announcements on iHeart Media and Comcast to relay the importance of mentoring and to recruit much-needed Big Brother & Big Sister volunteers.
  • Utah Jazz/Big Brothers Big Sisters Night – Gordan Hayward to sponsor 30 mentoring pairs to attend the BIG game against the Cavaliers.
  • Utah Grizzlies/Big Brothers Big Sisters Night where a “Big” and “Little” will drop the puck at the beginning of the game, 30 matches of “Bigs” and “Littles” will form a human tunnel for the hockey players to enter the ice arena, and two “Littles” will get to ride the Zamboni during the game break.
  • U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association will host 10 matches at a ski and snowboard racing competition at Solitude.
  • Walk in Their Shoes Campaign Throughout the last two weeks in January, follow our social media campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see your favorite local politicians and sports figures wearing bowling shoes to bring attention for the need for mentors to “walk in the shoes” of a child in our community who is waiting for a mentor. Throughout the month our Big Brothers and Big Sisters who are current mentors will also post about what they have learned from the child they mentor. Big Brothers Big Sisters is the nation’s largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network. In Utah, BBBSU serves Cache, Davis, Salt Lake, Summit, Utah, Washington, Wasatch and Weber counties, partnering with parents/guardians, schools, corporations and others in the community to carefully pair children (“Littles”) with screened volunteer mentors (“Bigs”). The mission of these relationships is to achieve measurable outcomes for children in three areas: avoidance of risky behaviors, educational success, and emotional intelligence. To learn more about BBBSU or to become a volunteer or mentor, please visit www.bbbsu.org.

BBBSU’s programs include:

  • Community-Based Mentoring: Mentors and children ages 6-18 years meet 2-4 times per month for a minimum of one year. Activities are based on individual interests and can be anything from going to the park, library or a baseball game.
  • Site-Based Mentoring: Mentors and children at a designated location, usually a school, (either at lunch or after school) meet for one hour each week while school is in session, and on and off throughout the summer. Activities include homework, board games and four square!
  • Mentor 2.0: A new technological way of approaching one-to- one mentoring, Mentor 2.0 gives high-school students the tools and support they need to graduate from High School and succeed in College.

Founded in 1972 in New Orleans, Popeyes® is a leader in the New Orleans segment of the foodservice industry and is the world's second largest quick-service chicken concept based on the number of units. As of October 4, 2015, Popeyes® had 2,475 operating restaurants in the United States, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Cayman Islands and 27 foreign countries. For more information, visit the Popeyes® Louisiana Kitchen website at www.popeyes.com.

7 Habits of Highly Effective Mentors

baseballgame_2Listening. Listening is the only way mentors can understand what people are up against and where opportunities for developing the relationship can be discovered.

Building a relationship. In the hurry to make a difference, mentors can forget to take time to build a relationship and establish a firm connection. This means carefully cultivating trust. It means being patient. Many people will test mentors to see if they are for real.

Respecting boundaries. When mentors ask people personal questions before a solid relationship has been established, the most common response if silence. People will clam up. Mentors who do not respect their mentees’ needs for privacy are often quick to alienate them.

Being sensitive to differences. It is necessary to realize that mentors and those they work with come from different worlds, a reality even for mentors who may have grown up disadvantaged. On one level, this means being aware of the embarrassment a person might feel about being poor. As one young man said about his mentor, “I rarely let him come to my house, even now, because it’s not the house that I want, it’s not the house that I would have if l was in charge of it.”

Providing support and challenges. Successful mentors are consistently there for people, delivering a sustained message: “You are important.” When problems arise, effective mentors resist telling people what to do and instead work with them to address the problems. These mentors are eventually able to strike a constructive balance between supporting and challenging – both nurturing people and pushing them toward their goals.

Acknowledging reciprocity. While mentors often have to provide the initiative early in the relationship as trust is being established and the relationship built, mentoring is a two-way street. Growth, benefits and struggles are present on both sides, and mentors who are able to convey that they are there for mutual exchange – not just to solve problems – stand the greatest chance of making a solid connection.

Being realistic. Few mentors turn lives around, but mentors who help people move toward achieving goals can make a real contribution. Often this means having thick skin – tolerating unreturned phone calls, accepting the vicissitudes of youth, recognizing the social and cultural gaps that must be bridged. In the end, few virtues in mentoring rival ongoing commitment and genuine caring.

Marc Freedman is a long-time advocate and researcher of mentors. For more information see www.civicventures.org. Adapted from his book The Kindness of Strangers: Adult Mentors; Urban Youth and the New Volunteerism (Cambridge University Press; 1999)

 

Sparking a Fourth Grader’s Imagination
by Oprah Winfrey

“One of the defining moments of my life came in the fourth grade, the year I was Mrs. Duncan’s student. What Mrs. Duncan did for me was to help me not to be afraid of being smart. She encouraged me to read, and she often stayed after school to work with me, helping me choose the books and letting me help her grade papers. For many years after that, I had one goal; that I would one day become a fourth-grade teacher who would win the teacher award – because I was going to be the best teacher anyone had ever seen.”

Excerpted from the web site: www.whomentoredyou.org, which features interviews of many celebrities paying tribute to their mentors.

Support Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah by eating at ANY Buffalo Wild Wings!

BWW_slider

Through August 15th, Big Brother Big Sisters of Utah is partnering with Buffalo Wild Wings to help promote our 60 men 60 Days campaign! With your help, we are hoping to generate funds to help us recruit more men as volunteer Big Brothers. We currently have 300+ Little Brothers on our waiting list that are anxiously awaiting a Big to make a difference in their life!

Learn more about 60 Men 60 Days!

Supporting our cause is easy!

Step 1: Bring your Home Team Advantage Teammate Card into any Buffalo Wild Wings in Utah, before August 15, 2016.

Step 2: Show your card, on a mobile device or via prionted copy, to your server.

Step 3: The server will add 10% of your total sales to BBBSU’s running total. It’s that easy!

 

bwwteammatecardPrint this page or show your server this card
to help support Utah children that are facing adversity by providing them with one-on-one mentoring.

 

*This Teammate Card is valid at ANY Utah Buffalo Wild Wings location.*