Bringing different members of the community together has always been part of Big Brothers Big Sisters’ mission to help children succeed in life because children are connected to communities. Now, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cumberland & Salem Counties (BBBS) has started a new program aimed at building relationships between youth, law enforcement officers and first responders.
Created by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and launched in 2016, Bigs in BlueSM is a one-to-one mentoring program that connects youth with police in communities throughout the country, building strong, trusting, and lasting relationships. Research shows that mentored youth are less likely to use drugs, engage in delinquent and anti-social activity, and more likely to form positive social bonds and an improved outlook for their future.
BBBS has extended the reach of the program locally with their “Bigs with Badges” program, which brings in other law enforcement personnel including members of the Sheriff’s Department the Prosecutor’s Office, and first responders.
“Reaching children at a young age through positive role models greatly enhances their chances of success,” said Donna Bennett, President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cumberland & Salem Counties. “The Bigs with Badges program builds bridges of communication to offer youth a positive perspective about law enforcement and first responders.
More than that, Bigs with Badges enables children to get an early understanding that law enforcement officials are a positive presence in the community,” Bennett said. “With just a one-year commitment, a mentor in the Bigs with Badges program can make a huge impact on the life of a Little Brother or Little Sister, as well as the community at large. At a time when law enforcement and first responders are under intense media and public scrutiny, it is more important than ever for young people to understand that they are not a force to be feared.”
“Bigs with Badges has the power to change young people’s perceptions of law enforcement and first responders. They, in turn, will share those impressions with their friends,” said Melody Montgomery, BBBS Director of Development. “They can have a huge impact as a Big Brother or Big Sister while having fun at the same time. Mentoring improves the life of a child while enriching the mentor’s life in the process. It doesn’t feel like volunteering and the reward cannot be measured.”
For more information on mentorship, volunteering,or additional ways to support Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cumberland & Salem Counties, please contact Melody Montgomery at 856.692.0916, or visit our website at www.southjerseybigs.org.