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!

Big of the Year, Kyle Kauma!

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Let’s continue our summer of recognition for our 2014 Bigs of the Year! Next up is Kyle Kauma, college student and dedicated School-Based mentor.

Regardless of weather conditions, a difficult commute, or a busy schedule,  University of Minnesota sophomore Kyle Kauma, 19, makes the commitment to meet with his Little Brother, Hayyuu, 8, at his elementary school every week. The two spend their time getting to know each other by doing homework together, chatting, and playing games. In just a little over a year, Kyle’s dedication has made a profound impact on the way Hayyuu views the classroom. According to their Match Coordinator, Paula, “Hayyuu has a much better attitude about school and is starting to think about the idea of higher education, something he initially said he didn’t think he was going to attend,”

Hayyuu’s second-grade teacher, Cindy Liu has also noticed some additional benefits to Hayyuu’s friendship with Kyle, saying “Hayyuu became more positive, responsible and emotionally mature.” She goes on to say that,  “Hayyuu started enjoying school and learning. His mom came to me excitedly saying, ‘Hayyuu changed! Hayyuu changed!’”

From their Match Coordinators point of view, “Kyle truly cares about Hayyuu…He does a great job of influencing and guiding Hayyuu to set him on the right path.” For Kyle, it seems as though mentoring is more than an extracurricular activity; it’s a dedication to provide a strong, enduring, and meaningful friendship.

The two continue to meet weekly during the school year, and Hayyuu can sense that he’s a priority, saying, “We laugh a lot. He tells me that I can do anything. He is the best Big Brother anyone could ever have.”

Congratulations Big of the Year, Kyle Kauma!

Can’t be a Big? Here are 4 other ways to make a difference

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If being a Big just isn’t for you, there are still tons of ways you can make an impact through Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Refer one male friend to be a Big Brother We have an abundance of young males waiting to be matched with a Big Brother. If you know a guy that you think is cut out for the job and wants to be an integral part of a child’s life, point him in this direction.

Donate It’s quick, it’s easy, and it makes a difference. We depend on the generosity of our community to provide the best services we can for our Littles. Whether it’s a one-time contribution, regular donations, or a gift in honor of someone special, every bit matters.

Join the YPG The Young Professionals Group spreads awareness of BBBS through fun social events and activities. Young professionals in all fields are welcome to join, and you can follow them on Twitter to hear about upcoming events.

Join the Everyday Advocates Team If you’re passionate about the BBBS mission, help us recruit more Bigs. Volunteers on the Everyday Advocates Team work to spread the word about mentoring at events and within their community. Sharing your enthusiasm for mentoring is a phenomenal way to expand the reach of BBBS to more kids.