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Mentors assure young people that someone cares and will be there through challenges.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - A 'Big' helps helps her 'Little' during a Big Brothers Big Sisters art project.January is National Mentoring Month and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Oregon is celebrating the power a positive adult role model can have on a child facing adversity.

Currently, the Big Brothers Big Sisters office in Jefferson County office has 10 deserving children waiting patiently for an adult volunteer who will help change their lives for the better, forever.

A mentor, or "Big," assures young people that someone cares, will be there through challenges, and help them see the strength in themselves.

Mentoring has been shown to improve the futures of mentees, or "Littles" through better grades, achievement of higher levels of education, and improved relationships.

Essentially, young people with a mentor grow personally and have better social and economic opportunity than those who do not. Yet many kids in Jefferson County never have this opportunity.

For those who are mentoring, the experience not only offers the opportunity to have fun in the local community and see the world through a youth's perspective, but builds leadership and management skills. It is an empowering way to touch the future.

Currently in Jefferson County, there are 17 community-based matches and 32 site-based matches. In a traditional community-based match, Bigs and Littles spend on average about six to 12 hours a month out in the community doing activities they both enjoy. They may play sports together, go on a hike, read books or eat a pizza with extra anchovies.

Furthermore, BBBS has a very successful site-based program at both Madras Elementary School and Buff Elementary School, where elementary-aged students are matched with students from Madras High School.

These matches talk, laugh, learn and play games — all with the aim of developing a caring, meaningful friendship that will change the child's life for the better.

If you want to make a "big" difference in the life of a young person, BBBS invites you to help it celebrate National Mentoring Month by signing up to be a Big.

For more information, visit the website: www.bbbsco.org, or call the Jefferson County program coordinator, Alex Penaloza at 541-604-0287. Whatever it is you enjoy, odds are you'll enjoy them even more with your Little, and you'll be making a life-changing impact.

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