Big Brothers, Big Sisters Making a Difference for Numerous Kids
By Melissa Maynarich, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Thousands of Oklahomans are impacting children's lives by giving just one hour each week, and their small commitment is making a "big" difference.
Rynzo Pruiett's reading skills have dramatically improved since he started meeting with Tim Heskett once a week.
"When we first got together, he was very quiet. I've seen a difference in his confidence, especially his confidence in his reading," Heskett said.
The two have been paired up through Big Brothers Big Sisters for more than a year. When the two get together, they talk about each other's families, do school work, and play sports in the school gym.
"I have as much fun I think as he has. It's a fulfillment you get from making an impact on a person's life," Heskett said.
At Dunbar elementary, 35 students are matched with a mentor and several more are on the waiting list. The goal at Dunbar is to match all 175 students, because it makes such a profound difference in their lives.
"When a Big Brother, Big Sister comes in and helps them with their homework, it makes them feel good because they get better grades, they get along with kids better in class, and they learn a lot of social skills too," said Leota Betts, Dunbar Elementary Principal.
Research has proven that children matched with a "Big" are 46 percent less likely to use drugs, 27 percent less likely to start using alcohol, 52 percent less likely to skip school, more confident in school performance, and they get along better with family and friends.
Big Brothers and Sisters are making a big difference in the lives of so many "at risk" local children.
"We have some kids in Oklahoma, who coming from single parent households, they may not have the influence of a positive role model, such as a father or even a mother in their lives," said Kelley McGuire, Big Brothers Big Sisters Area Director.
And "Littles" enjoy the one-on-one attention.
"I love that it teaches me about science. I learn a lot of new math questions, and I love reading," Pruiett said.
Big Brothers Big Sisters said most mentors start out thinking they will help out a child, but they end up saying, "I got back so much more than I gave."