There’s no shortage of kids waiting for a mentor in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. For many children — especially those living in the child welfare system — having a positive adult figure can make all the difference. Yet, we’ve noticed some worries people have about being approved as a volunteer. These are generally rooted in myths that need to be dispelled.
Myth #1: You Need to Be a Trained Social Worker (OR That “Type” of Person) to Be a Mentor
Busting the Myth: Volunteering as a Big Brother or Big Sister doesn’t require a degree in social work or years of mentorship experience. We’re not looking for professionals necessarily; we’re looking for people like you. Our program offers all the training and resources you’ll need to be a successful mentor. All you need to bring is a willingness to make a positive difference in a child’s life.
Myth #2: “People Like Me Don’t Do This”
Busting the Myth: If you think mentorship is only for a select group of people, think again. Our mentors come from various backgrounds, professions, age groups and identities. You might be surprised to learn how many people just like you are already mentoring and thoroughly enjoying the experience. It’s not about being a certain “type” of person; it’s about being a caring, consistent presence in a child’s life.
Myth #3: “I’m Not the Perfect Role Model”
Busting the Myth: If you’re holding back because you think you need to be a flawless individual to be a mentor, you’re setting the bar unrealistically high. No one is perfect, and that’s okay. Kids don’t need perfection; they need guidance, support, and someone to look up to. Your unique life experiences, even the struggles, can offer invaluable lessons to your Little.
A Note on Representation and Why It Matters
While we are grateful to work with volunteers from all backgrounds, we do want to bring attention to a specific need within the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. We support lots of kids, and some of them are currently living in the child welfare system. There is an overrepresentation of Black and Indigenous children and youth within this system. Because of that, we are looking for more Black and Indigenous volunteer mentors. The more diverse our pool of mentors, the better we can match kids with mentors who can relate to their specific experiences, challenges and aspirations.
The Bottom Line
These myths only serve as barriers that keep willing and caring individuals from making a meaningful impact. We need you—yes, you!—to step up and make a difference. If you’re on the fence, let today be the day you dispel those myths for good and take the first step toward becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister.
By joining our ranks of mentors, you’re not just adding a line to your resume; you’re changing a life. And maybe, just maybe, that life might be yours, too.
Ready to make a difference? Click here to learn more.
About Big Steps to Success
Serving children and youth and meeting them where they are takes a collaborative approach. Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada (cafdn.org) and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada are working together to serve youth in care who would benefit from a consistent mentoring relationship. We are grateful to our funders: BMO Financial Group (BMO), the Government of Ontario and BridgeGreen Fund. Their belief in mentoring is bringing Big Steps to Success to life in 4 pilot communities: Victoria, Saskatoon, Toronto and North Bay for children and youth in care aged 7 to 14. This is a critical early intervention window when young people are more likely to be receptive to adult mentors and experience long-term academic benefits. Did you know, in Canada, less than half of young people involved with child welfare graduate from high school (46 per cent), compared with the general population (83 per cent)? Big Steps to Success was developed to provide consistency and ignite potential in their futures.