Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast, which Angela Melvin serves as community resource director for Lee County, Florida, maintains a number of school- and community-based mentoring programs. The nonprofit begins by matching children between the ages of 6 and 18 with adult volunteers. Most relationships between Bigs, the adult mentors, and Littles, their mentees, begin in the community, but the school-based programs are important as well.
Both sets of programs aim to match children with positive role models, forming relationships that make kids less likely to engage in poor choices like skipping school or using alcohol or illegal drugs. Community programs take a variety of forms, ranging from activities like walking through a park or attending a museum to hanging out and listening to music or talking. Bigs meet their Littles for community programs based upon whatever schedule suits them both, whether that means on weekends or in the evenings.
School-based programs are only a little more structured. With the support of teachers, Bigs meet their Littles either on the playground or in the classroom. The meetings may involve help with homework or school-related activities like reading, but Bigs and Littles also have fun playing basketball and going on playground outings. Regardless of the activity, the goal is the same: help kids develop by providing inspiration and guidance.