The recent symposium on youth mental health put on by the Alex Panton Foundation brought together many groups and organisations which are also geared towards helping Cayman’s young people find their way onto a better path in life. One such entity is the Big Brothers Big Sisters programme, which mentors young people in Cayman on an individual basis.
BBBS, as it is known, was first developed in the early 1990s, when an informal group of concerned residents, led by Pastor Stanwyck Myles, got together to mentor children and teenagers. BBBS was formally incorporated in 1995, with the help of the Lions Club of Grand Cayman.
Gregory Smith, BBBS’s Executive Director and Angela Martins, the organisation’s deputy chair of the Board of Directors, were on hand manning a booth at the recent mental health symposium, to explain the importance of BBBS. Mr Smith outlined why their organisation wanted to have a presence at the recent mental health symposium.
“The work that we are doing really involves collaboration, understanding what others are doing in the community, so this is an opportunity for us to come out and both network with other organisations and better understand what they are doing,” he explained. “Then we can align our efforts. That’s critical for us.”
Being out in the community meant people were more able to understand what BBBS was doing and gave them the ability to highlight opportunities to get involved, volunteer and support efforts to contribute to BBBS, because the entity is completely based on donations, he advised.
BBBS is a mentoring programme that seeks to give young people assistance on an individual basis, giving them attention that might be lacking elsewhere in their lives.
“We match an adult one-on-one with a child age between 6 and 16 years old and it provides the young people with a positive role model. Mentors spend from one hour a week to do fun activities with the young people,” he advised. “There is an in-school programme where the mentors (the ‘Big’) can visit the young people (‘the ‘Little’) in school and then they do games and activities and sometimes they will do homework.”
Bigs can also spend time with the Littles doing fun activities within the community, like having a sandwich out for lunch or playing ball, whatever the Little is interested in, Mr Smith advised.
“It’s really a friendship, supporting them. Many of our kids who are involved in our programme have some adversity in their life. Maybe they have one parent at home, maybe they have some other challenges, that’s how they are identified. What the Big does is provides some stability, providing a role model where those presences might be more absent in their life,” he stated.
Visit bbbs.ky to find out more.