GUELPH – Matching young boys in grades 5 and 6 with supportive mentors is now a little bit easier for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Guelph (BBBSG), thanks to a three-year grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF).

The $156,700 “Grow” grant enables BBBSG to expand its highly successful school-based group mentoring programs, which will now be offered to boys in grade 5 and 6. Focusing on promoting self-esteem, positive development, physical activity, and balanced eating, this program was formerly only offered in the schools to girls in grades 5 and 6. This innovative program, which has long been requested for boys by local elementary schools in response to the success of the girls program, takes a proactive approach to youth development, encouraging youth who are facing barriers to develop strong emotional and social skills with their peers. The expansion of School-Based Groups has earned the support of Guelph’s Member of Provincial Parliament.

“It is because of organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters of Guelph that young people in our community can grow into smart, mindful, and emotionally resilient adults,” said MPP Mike Schreiner. “I want to express my utmost respect for the selfless mentors, volunteers, and staff at BBBSG for continuing to better Guelph each and every year.
“With their well-deserved support from Trillium, the [School-Based Group] mentoring program will ensure boys and young men make healthy lifestyle choices in order to reach their maximum potential.”

In addition to expanding their staff team to meet the needs of this growing program, funds from OTF will enable BBBSG to carry out a volunteer recruitment campaign targeting males in the Guelph community between the ages of 18-25, as well as create program information materials, and allow for a robust evaluation process.

“The generous three-year commitment that we have received from the Ontario Trillium Foundation will have a profound impact on the work that we do and the children whom we serve,” said Big Brothers Big Sisters of Guelph’s Executive Director, Michael Treadgold. “We look forward to enriching the lives of young boys in Guelph through the gift of mentoring, helping them reach their potential while encouraging them to pursue a healthy active lifestyle.”
Grant funding for this initiative will begin in May 2019 with the program launch expected to take place in September.