For many years, the University of Connecticut has successfully partnered with Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters, a local mentoring program, to unite UConn student mentors with local schoolchildren mentees. Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters is seeking to continue that partnership and is now looking for more UConn students to serve as mentors in its program.
Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters runs several local programs, including after-school mentoring at all of Windham’s elementary schools and one in Putnam. Of particular interest to UConn students, Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters also runs a once-a-week program on the UConn campus, where students from Windham Middle School are bussed to meet with their UConn student mentor (their “big”). In this program, bigs and their mentees (“littles”) meet for 60-90 minutes each week during the UConn academic year. During each of these professionally supervised sessions, bigs and littles do anything from homework help to crafts and recreational activities to listening to guest speakers.
The program aims for bigs and littles to form a bond and for bigs to support littles in setting and achieving goals. Director of Marketing Brian Kelly talked more about Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters’ mission in an email.
“At Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters, our goal for each child we serve is to achieve success in life,” Kelly said in his email. “Our mission is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported, one-to-one relationships with mentors in their communities that change their lives for the better.”
When it comes to the qualities that make a good big, Kelly has noticed that traits like patience, open-mindedness, respect for diversity and the ability to work with children one-on-one all help someone to become a good big. Of course, the development of a relationship between a big and their little can be a new experience for both, but Kelly says that it is a very meaningful opportunity.
“The impact you can have on a child will last a lifetime,” Kelly said. “Some of our children just need someone to talk to and someone to advocate for them…. As UConn students, our mentors have a unique ability to encourage the children towards their goals.”
In Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters, bigs and littles are kept together for as long as possible so that they can form a supportive, enduring relationship to rely on over time. UConn students are in a unique position where they can relate to younger children but can be a positive role model for them, too, Kelly says. He also points out how littles’ relationships with UConn bigs allows them to see college as an opportunity for themselves.
“They (the littles) grow socially and emotionally as they learn to develop friendships, deal with conflict and begin setting future goals,” Kelly said. “One of our program’s goals is to have our students see higher education as an attainable goal. Kids in our on-campus program get a feel for life at the university, and begin to become comfortable with this idea. They start to see options where they might not have seen them before.”
If you want to get involved as a mentor in any of Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters’ programs, you can contact Student Director Lindsey Vieweg at firstname.lastname@example.org or Site-Based Coordinator Shasity Rios at ShasityR@nbbbs.org. To learn more about Nutmeg Big Brothers Big Sisters, you can visit their website at www.nbbbs.org.
Stephanie Santillo is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.