Meet Amanda – May Mentor of the Month

With the summer months and beautiful weather right around the corner, recognizing Amanda as our Mentor of the Month for May seemed perfect! Sunny days and warmer weather fill the air with joy, happiness, and excitement that comes from fun outdoor activities and summer foods! That walk through a park, playing outside, enjoying refreshing fruits—that’s what Amanda is all about, fitting perfectly into our Go Girls! program.

May Mentor of the Month Amanda

May Mentor of the Month Amanda

The Go Girls! program promotes physical activity, balanced eating and building positive self-esteem. The in-school program aligns perfectly with Amanda’s values, having completed four, seven-week sessions—and continuing! Amanda has been an advocate for volunteerism throughout her life, having volunteered with Pride Stables before joining us here at BBBSWR. Pride Stables is a program that offers therapeutic horseback riding to people with disabilities. The funny thing is, “I’m actually terrified of horses!” Amanda mentioned, but that didn’t stop her from facing her fears and doing something incredible for the community. She also volunteers with the Canadian Mental Health Association, where she goes into an elementary school and meets with kids weekly to do fun activities! When asked what Mentoring means to her, she said:

I don’t think that I could sum it up in one word. I think that Mentorship is not only a wonderful experience for young adolescents, but, also for myself. I learn so much from them, it’s a new age of technology and even though we’re so immersed in it, their generation has it at such a young age. It can have a negative impact on young girls’ self-esteem. I think Mentoring means helping to teach young girls how to build positive self-esteem, communication skills and new relationships outside of social media. It’s important to help build young girls up, to empower them, help every girl feel beautiful, strong and intelligent.

We’re excited to explore new wonderful experiences with the warmer weather here as well, and we’re thrilled that Amanda is a part of Go Girls! and here to advocate for this! She is a recent graduate of Legal Studies at University of Waterloo, and is looking to pursue a career in policing. Her path to becoming a police officer helped guide her to BBBSWR. Here’s how she got involved:

My friend’s uncle is a Waterloo Regional Police Officer and I was asking him questions about getting involved with policing. He recommended that I continue to volunteer and get more involved in the community. He mentioned that he was a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters, for 10 years! Even as a Police Officer, he had time to Mentor a Little in BBBS for 10 years!

I took his advice and discovered the Go Girls! program and thought “This is amazing! This fits perfectly with what I love; fitness, nutrition, and self-esteem building.” I thought it’d be so fun and amazing to work with grades 6, 7, and 8 girls, and I was right!

Amanda running for UW’s Cross Country Team

Amanda running for UW’s Cross Country Team

Amanda loves that the Go Girls! program is ever-changing and adapting to the needs of the different girls in the different groups. “Every session is something new. Even though it’s the same program, it’s always new experiences, new relationships, and new highlights. It puts girls together who aren’t necessarily friends at the beginning of the program and they build new relationships that a lot of them continue when the program is over, that’s so heartwarming to see.” The Go Girls! program is something that anybody looking to volunteer but is struggling to find the long-term or high time commitments should consider. It’s adaptable, being a smaller time commitment as each session only runs for 7 weeks. Living in Waterloo during her University program, Amanda volunteered for Go Girls! sessions in Waterloo, now being back at home in Cambridge, she’s able to start new sessions and impact the community in Cambridge!

The girls will start out chatting about something they liked about the previous week—a conversation, a memory, a snack, an activity, a game, etc., and Amanda will read from their anonymous question box, where they state something they want to do, a concern they have, a question, or something they like! They go through tips of the day, everything from healthy active living tips to nutritional tips discussed during a snack—they get to decide what they want to eat the following week and Amanda picks it up for them! If the weather’s nice the group goes outside and does an activity or plays a game, and sometimes by the end dives into some more serious topics—things like personal relationships, problem-solving issues, or general life advice. Most sessions end in compliments and tip-giving in a fun and exciting way.

The girls grow so much and learn so much throughout the program. Sometimes it’s not obvious right away—I ran a smaller group, about 4 or 5 girls, who found it challenging to accept compliments because of self-esteem troubles. By the end, the girls were able to give and receive compliments, understanding that they were genuine and came from a kind place and that’s where Go Girls! really helps them. It was amazing seeing these girls compliment and support each other by the end!

Amanda’s influence doesn’t end here; her impact reaches out to those around her as well. She has inspired others to get involved:

My friend was taking a course called Psychology of Good, and she had to do a project on a likely organization. She chose to do the Go Girls! program because of how much I talk about it. After completing the entire project and uncovering the impact that it really does have, she is planning to become a volunteer herself!”

Amanda’s friend with her project poster on Go Girls!

Amanda’s friend with her project on Go Girls!

If I had to give any piece of advice to any person considering volunteering in this program, it would be to just go for it. You won’t realize how much you’ll love it and how much it benefits the community until you do it—it’s heartwarming. There’s so much you can learn from people who are younger than you. I honestly just wish I had a program like this when I was in elementary school—and that moves me today.