Greenfield students making big impacts


For the last few years Greenfield students have benefited from a partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central Ohio, part of a nationwide organization that encourages children to reach their full potential through one-to-one mentoring.

The organization strives to “develop positive relationships that have a direct and lasting effect on the lives of young people,” according to the website. Across the country, BBBS does this through monitored matches of adult volunteers, known as Bigs, with children, known as Littles, in their community to create relationships with trusted adults that can help the children better navigate the challenges they face.

What that looks like through the organization’s school-based mentoring program is high school students act as mentors to sixth graders new to middle school.

The school-based mentoring program at McClain through Big Brothers Big Sisters South Central Ohio (BBBSSCO) started five years ago, BBBSSCO mentoring specialist Charity Wheeler said, and it’s a program the organization engages in many school districts across its five-county area (Highland, Ross, Pickaway, Fayette and Pike).

“The Bigs help them by offering guidance, encouragement and support,” said Wheeler. “The Bigs let the Littles know that they are not alone and that much of what they are experiencing were things that they also encountered when they were new to middle school.”

The Bigs and Littles in Greenfield meet every week for lunch throughout the school year. They also participate in different activities together throughout the school year.

It’s something that McClain Principal Matt Shelton said has been beneficial to all of the students involved. Witnessing first-hand the positive impacts of the mentoring relationships, he said, has allowed him to see the high school students in a different element other than just as a student. It’s something he said makes him, “very proud of the great people they are.”

Participants in the school-based program are chosen based on professional in-person interviews of both the Big and Little, Wheeler said. Individual backgrounds and experiences are also considered to help make the best matches. Additionally, Bigs are required to provide references, and the information from those references also helps in making “thoughtful and intentional matches,” she said. “We do our best to match Bigs and Littles with similar interests in order to facilitate friendships.”

Wheeler said the program’s purpose, through friendship with a Big, is to provide additional support for Littles who may be struggling with various issues like self-esteem, making good life choices, navigating challenging changes and avoiding risky behaviors. For the Bigs, it’s an opportunity to earn community service credit and leadership skills that will help them as they move forward from high school.

Angela Shepherd is a correspondent for the Greenfield Exempted Village School District.

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