AMI Community Grants winner Big Brothers Big Sisters North Canterbury

Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Canterbury is a not-for-profit organization that matches kids aged 6 to 11 with mentors and positive role models in their communities. Winners of the recent AMI Neighbourly Community Grants, they were awarded $6000 to keep doing the important work they do in Rangiora. Ellie Le Gros immediately lights up when she talks about Big Brothers Big Sisters and it’s hard not to be moved by her passion and enthusiasm..

According to Ellie, there are so many success stories that have come out of Big Brothers Big Sisters of North Canterbury that it’s hard to pick just one.

"We have a school-based mentor who noticed his match no longer needed to be reminded to come to their weekly session, he started showing up, excited and ready to go. It took a year for him to learn that his “Big Brother” was in it for the long haul and was going to show up when he said he would. It seems so little and so insignificant but that’s actually a really amazing show of trust and is indicative of what Big Brothers Big Sisters is all about, providing consistent and dependable adult role-models."

“The children that we work with are not high needs, they don’t have behavioural issues,” says Ellie, “They’re just children that need a little bit extra. And what we’re saying is that spending time with someone who’s going to turn up week after week, is going to have a positive influence in their lives.”

AMI met with Andy and his little brother during their weekly mentorship session. They are doing a school-based mentorship which means that Andy visits his little brother’s school once a week and spends about an hour with him before he starts work.

It was grey and cold outside but during their time together, the sun came out. We watched as they played games outside – soccer and basketball mostly. There was a lot of running around, banter, and loud laughter from the little one. It was clear that these two have formed such a strong bond and that their mentorship was something that meant a lot not just to the little brother but to big brother Andy too.

“I’m learning a lot,” says Andy, “I have a couple of kids and being a mentor gives me a different perspective. It makes me a better parent and seeing that someone is happier because I’m there for them really makes me happy.”

Find out more about Big Brothers Big Sisters here and follow them on Facebook!