Last updated on November 26th, 2019 at 07:03 pm
After 50 years of creating and supporting thousands of mentoring relationships, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee (BBBS) is looking to transform the future of mentoring through the launch of a new mentoring program called ‘Sports Buddies.’ Sports Buddies is a one-to-one mentoring program that connects mentors and youth through a shared participation in sports and sports-related activities. Activities will range from attending a professional or collegiate sporting event to rock-climbing. The goal is expose young people to the widest variety of sports and sports-related topics.
The new program is the first of its kind in Tennessee and is designed to attract men that may have been hesitant to mentor in the past. As CEO Melissa Hudson-Gant explains, “We heard from a lot of men that they loved the idea of mentoring but were holding off because of the commitment required or the challenge of figuring out what to do with a kid. At the same time, we had boys waiting for a mentor, sometimes for months. We knew we needed to do something different.”
Sports Buddies, modeled after a highly successful program in Colorado, differs from other BBBS mentoring programs in four important ways: 1) the program requires less of a commitment, asking mentors to meet with their mentees twice a month for six months; 2) BBBS staff plans and facilitates all activities – mentors simply attend; 3) BBBS staff coordinates attendance and transportation with families; and 4) all activities, participatory and spectator, occur in a group setting.
The benefits of mentoring and participation in sports are well documented and have been linked to higher aspirations and decreased risk-taking behavior among youth.
“Men make time for sports and what better way to enjoy sports than through the lens of mentorship,” said Lonnell Matthews, Jr. Juvenile Court Clerk and chair of the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative in Nashville. “At a time when youth violence and delinquency are regular features of the nightly news, providing youth with an opportunity to experience both the benefits of mentorship and athletics has never been more urgent.”
To support this new program BBBS has been fortunate to have committed and visionary partners. The Joe C. Davis Foundation has provided an initial investment to support the launch of this program. Mentor recruitment for Sports Buddies is being supported by Nashville Promise Zone’s Crime Reduction Task Force and the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative.
Additionally, BBBS is also pleased to be partnering with the athletic departments of Vanderbilt University, Belmont University, Lipscomb University and Tennessee State University. These partners see Sports Buddies as a natural extension of their mission. “Belmont University Athletics is excited to partner with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee for its Sports Buddies program,” remarked Scott Corley, Belmont’s Director of Athletics.
“We wholeheartedly support the mission of mentorship and can’t think of a better avenue than a mutual love of sport to help bring together Bigs and Littles across Middle Tennessee.”
“Our partners know that on the path to success mentorship is not a luxury, but a necessity,” said Hudson-Gant. “If we want our young people to realize their potential in the future, they need mentors that can ignite and defend that potential today. This is how we ensure that our young people are ready to take us into our next 50 years.”