Reasons Why You Should Join a Youth Mentoring Program From a Current Little


By: Afifa Sharief


My name is Afifa, and I've been a Little (mentee) with Big Brothers Big Sisters for 7 years. I can’t even begin to tell you how much of a better person I am because of BBBS.  If you look at me now, you wouldn't believe I'm the same person I was when I first started as a little 9-year-old. I used to be really introverted, hated going out, and was generally afraid of people. Now, I have a lot of friends and enjoy hanging out with them every weekend. I have learned to enjoy talking and feel 10 times more confident than I was. Anybody can be a Little, all you really have to do is show up and have a fun time with your Big.


Personal Development

As a Little, you can get guidance and support to help you become your best self. Bigs can help you boost your confidence, resilience, and communication skills, all of which are important for many kinds of environments, like school and eventually your career. Anyone who knows me will tell you how much energy and excitement I bring. When I started out as a Little, I was not the most confident or sociable person. I feel like going to my program and seeing the same people week to week helped me become more confident and friendly. It was good to have that sense of community, and I eventually became more social and grew out of some of my anxieties.


Setting Realistic Goals

Bigs can support Littles in making short- and long-term goals that are achievable. Larger goals can be broken down into smaller, more achievable steps so that Littles can feel like they are making progress. I actually had no idea what my goals were when I was younger, and at first I thought, "Oh, it's just something I want to do," but there are many parts to a goal, and I learned that you can change them as you go along and there are many ways to get there. As a 16-year-old, I now set a lot of goals for myself, like how I want to look, how I want how to do in school, and what I want to do with my life. I have a general idea now of what steps I must take to reach each of them, and a plan for my future.




Improved Decision Making

Bigs have the ability to help Littles make better judgments in several areas of life by sharing helpful advice and insights based on their own experiences. Making responsible decisions can be confusing at times. You are constantly making choices, like how to act, what friends you have, and what you spend your time on. I find it a little stressful to do so, but having someone tell me about a similar situation and what they did definitely lowers my stress, and I usually make the right choice after talking about it with my mentor.



Better Communication Skills

Bigs can support Littles in improving their communication skills by having deep conversations with them. They can gain the skills necessary to effectively convey their ideas and ask questions. This reminds me of how uncomfortable I was around others when I was a kid and how difficult it was for me to express how I felt. I began talking to more people at my program and gained confidence as I got more comfortable seeing the same people every week.



Stress and Emotional Support

The positive influence and support of a Big can be especially helpful when a Little is going through difficult moments in their life. A Little can develop a sense of self-worth and find a safe environment to express their emotions with a consistent mentor. I personally struggle a lot with anxiety and stress, and sometimes these feelings may come from friends, school, or parents. For this reason, I find it incredibly beneficial to have someone to talk to who isn't one of those people, so that I can figure out what to do and how to feel better. It usually feels so much better after I get whatever it is off my chest and talk it out with my mentor.



Conflict Resolution

Bigs can offer recommendations on how to settle conflicts peacefully and respectfully, giving Littles useful techniques for dealing with problems. I was the kind of kid who took things too far, but I feel like I learned how to handle situations that frustrate me. I still get upset, but I can move on more easily now. I think that knowing about conflict resolution can help me let go and be a bigger person and forget about whoever was making me feel conflicted or upset.



Career Guidance

Kids may not be exposed to many career options in our everyday lives. A mentor in the BBBS program can help Littles find out about different careers they may be interested in. Bigs can help them identify their interests and passions and point them in the direction of a possible career pathway. As a junior in high school who needs a little extra help finding out about different career paths, I feel that talking about jobs and possibilities is quite helpful because, until now, I hadn't had a sense of direction or ever considered such things. I'm learning a lot and taking in what I can at this time, but even just talking about college and career options with my mentor is making me think differently about my future.


I am a Site Based match, and we meet every other week at a program location. I have a lot of fun just meeting other kids my age and talking about stuff that’s happening in my life. Sometimes we do a group activity with the other matches. My favorite thing to do there is play basketball and play board games. After a hard day of school, it's cool to just chill, hang out, and have fun. It's one of my favorite things to do, and I look forward to it every other week.



I wholeheartedly support becoming a Little for everyone my age. You may not  notice how you change right away, but over time I think being a Little can really benefit you. I wouldn't trade the time I spent with my Big for anything. So no matter which reason connected with you, I hope you’ll join me and take the first step by signing up with BBBS today at