The Rockwall Independent School District announced Aug. 12 that it will begin partnering with the nationwide non-profit organization “Big Brothers Big Sisters of America” (BBBS) this Fall so it can help increase the number of one-to-one mentors and role models for seventh, eighth and ninth grade students across Rockwall County.
According to RISD spokesperson Sheri Fowler, the school district has a lengthy history of successful partnerships with local and national outreach organizations – including “Rachel’s Challenge” and “Lift-Up America” – so working with BBBS should be reasonably easy.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is the largest youth mentoring organization in the United States, providing individual mentors to fatherless, motherless, and parentless children and at-risk youth since the early 1900s. The organization’s mission is to help children reach their potential through professionally supported, one-to-one relationships with mentors that have a measurable impact on youth.
It officially incorporated in 1977, when the Big Brothers organization merged with the Catholic Big Sisters. With nearly 400 affiliates across all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Guam, it served 255,000 children in 2007 – more than twice the number of five years ago.
Research reveals that children who have Big Brothers and Big Sisters are 52 percent less likely to skip school, 46 percent less likely to use illegal drugs, 27 percent less likely to use alcohol, and more likely to get along with their families and peers.
“The foundation and values of Big Brothers Big Sisters effortlessly reinforce the mission of Rockwall ISD,” Fowler said. “The organization has been the leader in one-to-one youth service for over 80 years and strives to help children reach their potential through professionally supported relationships.”
“BBBS has provided mentoring services to the children in the City of Rockwall and Rockwall County through their community-based program for years. However, this new partnership promises to grow the number of children served at levels never seen before.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters is equally happy with the arrangement.
“We are very excited about partnering with the Rockwall Independent School District to provide one-to-one mentoring for our students,” said Charles Pierson, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters. “There is nothing more impactful in youth development than engaged mentors.”
Rockwall ISD and BBBS will host a rally and dinner Oct. 3 in honor of those who have volunteered as “Bigs” and their little brothers and sisters. Following the event, the mentors and students will be escorted to the Rockwall vs. Rockwall-Heath high school football game. In addition, a booth will be set up at the game to promote and increase the reach of BBBS in Rockwall and surrounding communities. Representatives from Rachel’s Challenge and Lift-Up America will be involved in the celebration, as well.
Fowler said the event will serve as a kick-off for the second year of the Rachel’s Challenge initiative, emphasizing The Power of One. Community members, businesses and families will be encouraged to get involved in mentoring through BBBS.
“One mentor can make an enormous impact on the lives of children,” she added.
For more information about volunteering with BBBS, please call 888.887.2447 or visit www.bbbstx.org.
For information about RISD’s participation, call Sheri Fowler or see the website at www.risd.org.