Healthy Habits Begin Here!

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Childhood Obesity is a major problem in the United States – just ask Michelle Obama.  Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities has set out a mission to combat this problem starting right here at home with the youth we serve.  Along with the University of Minnesota Twin Cities School of Nursing, BBBS is set to launch the new Healthy Habits Program. This program, funded by the Clinical and Translational Science Institute, was created to educate local youth on eating healthy and staying active.

There are countless resources in the Twin Cities dedicated to wellness, but many children remain stuck at home due to lack of transportation or the supervision to attend those activities. This is where the Healthy Habits comes in. The program offers both Bigs and Littles a variety of fun, healthy activities where everybody can participate and have a good time, while also ensuring that Littles always have a ride and a chaperone. Along with exercise-based activities, Healthy Habits focuses on making educated food choices. Sessions will be offered to teach matches how to find fresh produce around their community and cook with it at home. To keep active, Healthy Habits will provide sessions at the YMCA to help Littles utilize the programs available in their community. Both types of activities will encourage healthy, long-lasting attitudes toward food and exercise.

This program will kick off October 2016 with events twice a month through October 2017. Matches will be given a “Health Pass” to encourage repeat attendance at Healthy Habits events. When matches attend at least 7 Healthy Habits activities, as noted in their “Health Pass”, they will receive a prize for their efforts. As a part of the Healthy Habits Program, researchers from the UMN School of Nursing will also attend the events and collect valuable data. Their hope is to figure out ways that mentors can better facilitate healthy habits in the lives of their mentees.

We’re looking forward to a very fit and active 2016-2017!

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2014 Big Sister of the Year, Paige Lepley!

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Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities has named Paige Lepley as the 2014 Community Based Big Sister of the Year. Paige, a Ramsey County social worker, is being recognized for her dedication to mentoring and the exemplary support she offers her Little Sister, Madison.

Paige and Madison have met twice a month for the past four years and when the two were first matched, Madison was undergoing a challenging time in elementary school. Paige made a positive impact and “Madison has really confided in Paige on a level no one else has, and she often calls her ‘big sister,’” says Match Support Coordinator Claudia.  “Paige is committed to Madison and it seems like they have created a friendship full of trust and hope.”

“Words cannot express how much Paige has helped my child grow into the fine young lady she has become today,” says Madison’s mother, Cindy, amazed by Paige’s impact on her daughter.

Twice a month, Paige and Madison meet up and go on adventures like rock climbing and golf and sometimes they simply focus on homework. Paige passed on her passion for volunteering to her Little.  She likes to incorporate Madison’s love of animals into their activities, and the two often volunteer with pet organizations and walk dogs.

Congratulations on being the 2014 Big Sister of the Year!

Want to learn more about how you can become a big? Click here! 

Big Brother of the Year – Luke Walford!

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After a stellar six year (and counting) match, Luke Walford has been named the Big Brother of the Year by Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities. This award recognizes Luke for his unwavering commitment to his Little, Brian.

Luke and Brian’s bond has remained strong throughout all of their major life events over the past six years, including Brian’s transition from elementary school to high school, and Luke’s marriage and growing family. The match has always been an integral part of each other’s lives.

And though weddings and new baby announcements have been very exciting, it’s the little things that have made this match so strong. Luke makes it a priority to attend Brian’s karate tournaments and the two play golf frequently. Most importantly, Luke introduced Brian to photography, a skill the high school student is already turning into a career through an internship with Robbinsdale Public Schools. Brian attributes his enthusiasm for his work to the support from his Big Brother. “I know that if I wouldn’t have ever met Luke my life would not be the same,” said Brian. “It is because of Luke’s love, encouragement and commitment to me that I have found my passion for photography.”

Luke is very proud of his Little Brother, saying, “I’ve enjoyed watching Brian mature from a boy who was once too shy to order food at a restaurant into a photographer who takes control and directs people on photo shoots,” said Luke. “I know he’s got a bright future.”

The encouragement and support evident in this match extends beyond the two of them; Brian’s mother, Sarah, considers Luke a part of their family, saying, “I truly believe that God sent Luke to us to make sure that Brian had a friend and mentor to help him navigate his way through life,” she said.

Congratulations on being the 2014 Big Brother of the Year, Luke!