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!

Who’s Who at BBBS: Jean Setley

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Representing BBBS in our community is what Jean Setley’s job is all about. As the Director of Community Outreach and Recruitment, her typical day is anything but.  She’s constantly meeting new people, identifying potential partners and looking for new ways to get people engaged with the BBBS mission, whether it be through volunteering as a Big, signing up their child to be a Little, or sponsoring programs.

Jean says she was drawn to Big Brothers Big Sisters because she really believes in the mission and channels that enthusiasm into her work.

“I like everything about my job,” says Jean. “I like talking about the difference mentoring makes and meeting new people.”

Jean says people may be surprised to know just how long BBBS has been providing mentoring services within the Twin Cities community. Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities has been matching Bigs and Littles for over 90 years, and this branch is the 10th largest in the nation.

Growing up, Jean had her own mentors. Her first music teacher inspired her to achieve goals she never imagined. “She pushed me to go beyond what I thought I was capable of doing,” Jean says. “She helped me be prepared to accomplish my goals.”

According to Jean, a good mentor is someone that will go the distance. “You need someone that will give unconditional support and care but will still hold you accountable,” she says. Does that sound like you? Learn more about becoming a Big here.

Nominate your Big to be Big of the Year

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A lot of really great people volunteer as Big Brothers and Big Sisters in the Twin Cities – more than 2,000, in fact. Bigs carve time out of busy schedules to make a difference to one child. You can find them in schools and on playgrounds, on bleachers and theater seats, walking around lakes and parks – doing whatever it takes to be an additional caring adult in a child’s life.

One a year, BBBS searches out the best of the best – the Big Brother and Big Sister who are truly outstanding volunteers in our program – and names them the Bigs of the Year. Nominations are being accepted now, and we need your help!

If you’re a Little, a parent, a friend or a teacher who has seen a Big in action, and you think their impact has been tremendously positive, please nominate them to be Big of the Year.

To receive this award, a Big must meet the following criteria:

  • The Big and Little have been matched for at least two years.
  • The Big has helped his/her Little overcome obstacles to achieve positive outcomes. (This may be shown by improved school performance, graduation, avoidance of delinquency, or respect of authority and peers.)
  • The Little has shown increased confidence, improved relationships with family and peers, an interest in setting goals for his or her future, and higher personal aspirations.
  • The Big has been very involved with BBBS, by recruiting new volunteers, promoting BBBS in the community, supporting fundraising efforts, and advocating for BBBS.

If you have a Big that you would like to nominate, please contact your Match Support Coordinator. You can also email Rob Donahue at rdonahue@bigstwincities.org.