IT’S A typical afternoon for Big Sister Kelsey Wiebe and her Little Sister Samara Forcier-Yake.
They’re rolling up rice, shrimp and vegetables in seaweed, making sushi in Kelsey’s dining room.
It was Samara’s idea.
“No other kid likes it more than I do,” says Samara about sushi.
She’s not your typical nine-year-old, Kelsey says.
They do all sorts of activities in the two to four hours each Tuesday after school that they spend together, mostly what Samara wants to do.
Since they were matched up a year-and-a-half ago, they’ve gone bowling, hiking, swimming, skating, gardening, going to the library, walking around Ferry Island identifying the faces in the trees – Samara says Kelsey told her she was good at finding the faces, but Kelsey only found five faces and Samara found about 30 – among other activities.
And there’s more coming up in the weeks to come, like downhill skiing. They went cross-country skiing for Samara’s first time a while ago and she took to it easily.
“She liked it and is really good at it,” says Kelsey, adding Samara asked when they would go downhill skiing.
“She’s really brave.”
Kelsey became interested in becoming a big sister when her best friend did it in Prince George.
She couldn’t because she didn’t have a car so when she got settled in here, she applied.
Samara asked for a Big Sister after her brother asked for a Big Brother for Christmas.
She asked what a Big Sister was and was told it’s “somebody who hangs out with you.”
“I’m like, ‘oh can I have one?’” says Samara.
Their first activity together was going to Chill Soda Shop for ice cream.
“I didn’t know what to say to a seven-year-old,” says Kelsey.
A train was going by and Kelsey said she wondered where it was going.
“Samara sized it up and said ‘coal going to China,’” said Kelsey.
“That’s when I knew she was smart.”
Kelsey finds she learns a lot from Samara and does things she wouldn’t do normally.
“She’s really funny and interesting,” says Kelsey.
Samara came up with the idea for Kelsey’s dog to have a birthday party. They made invitations, invited dogs they knew, had dog goodie bags with treats and little balls.
“I never would’ve thought of a dog birthday party,” says Kelsey.
Big Sisters, or Big Brothers, are matched with Little Sisters, or Little Brothers, and they decide how often to meet and do different activities.
They can continue meeting as long as both want to and every year their match is re-evaluated to make sure it’s working for both of them.
Kelsey says she intends to go on until Samara graduates high school.
“I’m going to be with Kelsey until I’m 30,” says Samara.
“Or maybe until I’m 20, then I can be a big sister.”
Big Brothers and Big Sisters, which is celebrating its 100th year, focusses on children age six to 12 from single parent families, who have less than once a month contact with a male role model for the Big Brother program, and/or other parent for the Big Sister program.
Currently, there are two boys and two girls matched with two big brothers and two big sisters, respectively, here.
And one big sister waiting for a match.
“What I can say is that three of the matches are over a year and the Bigs are excellent. [I] can’t stress that enough,” said Monica Watson, TDCSS Big Brothers Big Sisters of Terrace coordinator-fundraiser about how long some of the “Bigs” and “Littles” have been together.
There are six children on the wait list here.
Usually it’s boys waiting for a Big Brother.
Children can be on the wait list until their 13th birthday; if already matched with a mentor, they can continue past their 13th birthday.
There is also an in-school program offered in the past that matches a volunteer with a child in Grades 1-6.
They meet at the child’s school for one hour per week for at least one school year, doing activities like sports and reading.
Other programs include the Kids ‘n’ Kops program to introduce children to the RCMP through activities such as a mock crime scene; Go Girls for girls 12 to 14-years-old that addresses active living, balanced eating, and self-esteem; and Bowl for Kids Sake.