NEW HORIZONS SENIOR PROGRAM TO MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE THROUGH MENTORING IN THE LIVES OF LOCAL SENIORS AND YOUTH

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Matching young people ages 6-16 with supportive mentors is now a little bit easier for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Muskoka (BBBSM), thanks to a community-based project grant from the New Horizons Senior Program.

The $8,000 community grant enables BBBSM to expand its community-based mentoring programs to include Across Generations Mentoring. This program matches intergenerational mentors with a mentee. Across Generations Mentoring trains people who are aged 55+ for volunteer mentorship positions and enrolls children who need support and friendship.

Through this innovative program, BBBSM is working to combat the adverse effects of COVID-19 on both senior and youth populations’ mental health due to social isolation which can increase feelings of loneliness, stress, and general unhappiness. Through Mentoring Across Generations, BBBSM is striving to promote volunteerism among seniors, increase engagement of seniors in our community through the mentoring of others, and support the social participation and inclusion of seniors. This program also benefits the youth engaged in BBBSM programs by matching them with a dedicated mentor, decreasing their wait-time to be matched with a mentor, and providing them the opportunity to have some fun with their “Big Grandparent”!

In addition to expanding their staff team to meet the needs of their growing program, funds from NHSF will enable BBBSM to carry out a volunteer recruitment campaign targeting people aged 55+ across Muskoka, as well as create program information materials, host information sessions, and allow for a robust evaluation process.

“The generous support that we have received from the New Horizons Senior Program will have a profound impact on the work that we do and the children whom we serve,” said Big Brothers Big Sisters of Muskoka’s Executive Director, Chrissy King. “We look forward to enriching the lives of seniors and youth throughout Muskoka through the gift of mentoring, helping them build connections, and having fun.” King also wanted to give thanks to current BBBSM mentors, “Thank you to some of our current senior mentors who joined us in focus group meetings to provide feedback on our marketing materials and our program launch plan. Your knowledge, insight, and commitment to our programs is truly inspiring.”

If you are interested in learning more about volunteering or hosting an information session please contact Big Brothers Big Sisters of Muskoka at muskoka@bigbrothersbigsisters.ca or visit muskoka.bigbrothersbigsisters.ca today.

Grant funding for this initiative began in April 2021 with the program launch expected to take place in June 2021.