Nearly 20 Butler University students were recognized on Monday for their work with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana as part of National Mentoring Month.
Butler was among the 25 corporate partners acknowledged for creating an environment that encourages work with Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“It says a lot about these companies that their employees give back to the community in such a meaningful way,” Darcey Palmer-Shultz, Big Brothers Big Sisters CEO, said in a press release. “Our mentors change kids’ lives for the better forever.”
The undergraduates involved are assigned a little, often an at-risk, middle-school aged student. The bigs and littles are expected to spend five hours a month together.
Butler’s partnership with the Big Brothers Big Sisters, Bulldogs Being Bigs, has grown since its inception in 2009.
“They’ve just really stepped it up this year,” Laura Halt, director of volunteer engagement and training, said.
Halt and the rest of the administrators at Big Brothers Big Sisters have worked to get more students involved throughout its time at Butler with awareness programs and the development of programs to engage.
“We know that being a big isn’t for everybody,” Halt said. “This gives the group as a whole a variety of ways to participate.”
Halt said that since most college students find it difficult to balance schoolwork and extracurricular activities, the recognition from the program was important.
“They’ve really gone above and beyond that of a typical college student,” Halt said. “We think it’s phenomenal that they found a way to balance coursework and being a big.”
For one of the Butler bigs, involvement in the program has been life changing.
Junior chemistry and biology major Kelly Crider spends every other Saturday with her little, a 13-year-old enrolled at an Indianapolis charter school.
The two started working together through the College Mentors for Kids program during Crider’s freshman year but switched over to Big Brothers Big Sisters to allow for more off-campus activities and flexibility.
Every other Saturday, Crider and her little attend an art class at the Indianapolis Art Center. Free through Big Brothers Big Sisters, the class allows for the two to talk about school, friends and home life while painting, sculpting and sketching.
It’s an activity that Crider said she looks forward to, and they’ve made a tradition of their Saturdays.
Through the program, Crider said that she’s been able to realize the importance of children.
“This has really given me a chance to see life through the eyes of a kid again,” Crider said. “It’s given me an opportunity to fill the role of a big sister.”
Healthy eating has become an important part of the relationship Crider and her little share. After art class, they go to the grocery store and find something to make for dinner. Most recently, Caesar salad has been on the menu.
“She’s on a little bit of a kick,” Crider said.
The two have played roles in each others’ futures, Crider said.
Crider, who once saw herself in the medical field, now wants to teach.
“She’s absolutely changed what I want to do with my life,” Crider said. “Because of this, I’ve realized I want to serve.”
Her little, seemingly inspired by a comment Crider made about her “fine motor skills,” now talks about going to medical school one day.
Crider says the program is one of the most rewarding things she’s ever done and said she encourages everyone to try it out.
“People say they don’t have time for it,” Crider said. “But you have time for what you decide you have time for.”
Those interested in becoming part of Bulldogs Being Bigs should contact president Matt Miller at email@example.com.
BY THE NUMBERS
According to a Harris Interactive survey of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana:
52 percent of littles reported that their bigs kept them from dropping out of high school.
81 percent of littles said their bigs changed their perspective on what was possible in life.
90 percent of littles said that their bigs made them feel better about themselves.