According to the study, Big Brothers Big Sisters programs were found to “focus less on specific problems after they occur, and more on meeting youths’ most basic developmental needs.”
The matches that were observed shared everyday activities: eating out, playing sports or attending sports events, going to movies, sightseeing, and just hanging out together.
But what mattered to the children were not the activities. It was the fact that they had a caring adult in their lives. Because they had someone to confide in and to look up to, they were, in turn, doing better in school and at home. And at a time in their lives when even small choices can change the course of their future, the Littles were also avoiding violence and substance abuse.
In addition to the lives of Littles being changed for the better, the impact is contagious.
“When Little Brothers and Little Sisters feel good about themselves,” said Mathis, “they can positively impact their friends and families, their schools, and their communities. And as this important study has shown, these young people believe in themselves because a Big Brother or Big Sister believed in them.”
Public/Private Ventures, a national research organization with more than 30 years of experience in studying child development and social service issues, conducted the independent research.
The study was funded by the Lilly Endowment, the Commonwealth Fund, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and an anonymous donor.