Campbell River children in need of mentors being put on lengthy wait lists

Vulnerable children on long wait list for big brother, big sister program

Too many Campbell River children are waiting for a positive role model in their lives, city council heard Tuesday night.

Tara Jordan, co-ordinator of the KidStart Volunteer Mentoring program, told council how mentors are helping vulnerable children turn their lives around, but many kids are still waiting.

“The wait list is 85 children right now in Campbell River and of that 85, 55 or 57 approximately are male. There are far more males needing mentors,” Jordan said.

“We’re able to match young girls faster because a lot more women are coming to the program than men, with the end result being a desperate need for male mentors.”

Phil Dunn, 24, who grew up without a father and knows the difficulty of not having a male role model, told council that signing up to be a mentor was the best decision he could have made.

“I contacted KidStart and got involved just over a year ago,” Dunn said. “I was paired up with an 11-year-old…he rarely sees his father. We go rock climbing, we’ll go hiking, we’ll go camping and he has a blast with it.

“His teacher said he’s seen a huge change in his attitude,” Dunn added. “He’s significantly calmer, he’s a lot more co-operative with his mother. The KidStart program to me has very, very quickly become close to my heart. I think it’s a really, really good thing.”

And Dunn’s case is not unique.

Jordan said studies show that kids who have a mentor in their life do better in school and are more likely to succeed.

“They’re 50 per cent more likely to go on to post-secondary studies if they have a mentor in their life for 12 years or more, a 40 per cent decrease in drug and alcohol use and a 33 per cent decrease in the likelihood of committing a violent act,” Jordan said. “These services have an incredible impact on a community’s well-being.”

Jordan said the mentoring program helps kids between the ages of 6 and 18-years-old.

The children are referred by a parent or guardian, family member, school counsellor, community or social worker.

“These are sweet kids who’ve never been to McIvor Lake because their parents don’t have a vehicle,” Jordan said. “There are 23 children in Campbell River in KidStart.”

But there are more than that on the wait list.

Jordan is encouraging anyone who has the means and will to help to sign up as a mentor.

Volunteer mentors’ initial commitment is for three hours a week for one year or longer.

Volunteers are:

  • Adults 19-years-old or older.
  • Selected based on their ability to accept a young person.
  • Willing to be a positive role model and develop a relationship.
  • Carefully screened, oriented, and supported by the volunteer co-ordinator.

 

KidStart is also looking for sponsors.

Jordan told city council that for $1-$2 a week, one child could be sponsored for an entire year in the KidStart program.

To sign up to be a mentor or to sponsor a child, contact KidStart, through the John Howard Society, at 250-286-0611.