Healthy Habits Begin Here!


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!


Big Day at the U


DSCN9910 (1)On a gorgeous April day, several busloads of Big/Little matches spent a day exploring the East Bank of the University of Minnesota. The 122 Littles included students from six sites: Jefferson, Pratt, Marcy, Sullivan/Anishanabe, FAIR, and PCYC, and ranged in age from K-8th grade. “Big Day at the U” is an annual highlight for school-based Big Brothers and Big Sisters. University of Minnesota students who are volunteer Bigs have a day to host their Littles on campus.


Wearing their special issue “I Get By With A Little Help From My Big” maroon and gold t-shirts, the Littles got to see what many of their Bigs do during their time in college in a day packed with hands-on activities and demonstrations. Student clubs, academic programs, athletic opportunities, service projects, international travel, the military, and performing arts groups all shared their interests with the students.

DSCN9793Many Littles were particularly taken with the pre-med American Student Association activities. “That was really great because a lot of our Littles are interested in going into medicine,” said Big Brothers Big Sisters School-based Match Coordinator Emily Johnson. Another group got to have some special vocal training with a capella group The Comebacks, who taught the kids the Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy.”

And “HAPPY” is what those busloads of Littles were as they took some great new memories with them back to their schools!


Big Brothers Big Sisters is very grateful to all the University of Minnesota students who rolled out the maroon carpet for our group, with special thanks to:

Alpha Chi Sigma Chemistry Fraternity
BXO Multi-Cultural Fraternity
The Microbiology Club
Engineers without Borders
The Comebacks
Pre-med American Student Medical Association



5 great places to volunteer with your Little


Have you and your Little ever volunteered together? It can be a lot of fun – you get to try something new, do something good for your community, and spend some quality time together. Plus, it’s free! We asked around at a few local nonprofits and have come up with some ideas for great volunteering opportunities that your match might enjoy.

1. Habitat for Humanity

habitatMission: To eliminate poverty housing from the Twin Cities and to make decent, affordable shelter for all people a matter of conscience.

Volunteers Needed: Various opportunities are available, including:

  • Cookie bakers can help Habitat for Humanity thank their construction volunteers with homemade cookies! Just bake a batch of your favorite cookie and drop them off at the Habitat for Humanity office (1954 University Ave. W., St Paul).
  • Restore workers help in the Habitat for Humanity thrift store, with customer service, shipping & receiving, and other tasks. Volunteers must be age 14 or older.
  • Landscapers help prepare the yard of a new home for a family. This usually takes place on a Saturday. Volunteers must be age 14 or older.

For more information: Visit or contact Jenna Dewitz, Volunteer Coordinator, at 612-305-7114 or

2. The Bakken Museum

bakkenMission: To inspire a passion for science and its potential for social good by helping people explore the history and nature of electricity and magnetism.

Volunteers needed: Join Project Green Thumb to help keep The Bakken Museum’s gardens, wetlands and wooded areas beautiful. A casual gardening club meets on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

For more information: Visit or contact John Pawloski, Volunteer Manager, at 651-926-3878 x220 or

3. Twin Cities in Motion

TCMMission: To inspire millions of miles and create billions of smiles among runners, friends, families and communities they reach.

Volunteers needed: Race volunteers are needed at two upcoming events: the Medtronic TC 1 Mile on Thursday, May 8, and the TC Kids Cross Country Fun Run on Saturday, May 17. Opportunities include set up, tear down, registration, monitoring the course and serving refreshments.

For more information: Visit or contact Kelli Bartholow, Operations and Volunteer Manager, at 651-289-7707 or

4. Kids Against Hunger

kah_logoMission: To significantly reduce the number of hungry children in the USA and to feed starving children throughout the world.

Volunteers needed: Food packers can help end world hunger by packaging a specially formulated rice-soy casserole into serving size portions, to be shipped to people in need. This is a great opportunity for matches of all ages.

For more information: Visit

5. KFAI, Fresh Air Radio

kfaiMission: To broadcast information, arts and entertainment programming for an audience of diverse racial, social and economic backgrounds.

Volunteers needed: Radio show hosts are needed for KFAI’s community access program called The Wave Project. For one hour on Sunday mornings, your match controls the dials, and your show can be about anything you want – music, poetry, public affairs and more.

For more information: Visit or contact Curt McNamara, Wave Project Coordinator, at

Big Brothers Big Sisters is not affiliated with these organizations or volunteer activities, and these suggestions are offered as ideas only. Volunteers and parents/guardians should evaluate the appropriateness of each activity before participating. For more great volunteer activities, check out Hands On Twin Cities, Doing Good Together or Big Hearted Families.

We want to hear from you! Do you and your Little have a favorite volunteer activity? Tell us about it in the comments.