Big Brothers Big Sisters, Ontario- Toronto

GoodLife Kids Foundation is supporting the Go Girls! and Game On! programs of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto at 22 schools across the city. This grant will help recruit volunteers to offer these physical activity and healthy eating initiatives.

Go Girls! is a program designed to address the physical activity, balanced eating and positive self-image needs of young women ages 10-14 based on a group mentoring model. The main goal of Go Girls! is for young women to develop an appreciation of the benefits of an active, healthy, lifestyle. The program plans to reach 240 participants and is structured around four themes: physical activity, healthy eating, self-esteem, and communication skills.

Game On! uses a mentor approach to provide boys ages 10-14 with information and support to make informed choices about a range of healthy lifestyle practices. Through non-traditional physical activities, complemented with healthy eating support, 160 participants will have the opportunity to become involved in lifestyle decision making and develop habits for regular physical activity.

 

“I really enjoyed being a junior mentor for Go Girls! I think it’s a great program because it encourages girls to lead a healthy lifestyle. I like being a helper because I feel like this program really helps girls. We learn about how to eat right, stay active, and be aware of the dangers of drugs and alcohol. We also learn how to deal with real life situations”. Megan, Go Girls! Junior Mentor, Grade 8

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The Confidence to Try #FEELGOODFRIDAY Lukas is a 10-year-old Raptors fan who plays basketball with his local chapter of Special Olympics, but it wasn’t that long ago that he was afraid to join a team. Lukas is an outgoing kid who likes to make friends and has always been very active. But his early experiences in organized physical activity were not positive. One of his biggest challenges with autism is struggling to follow directions in large groups. He was often told he was doing things wrong and even that he would embarrass the team. “These negative comments deflated his confidence, and he became afraid to try new things,” explained his mom Lisa. When he was eight, Lukas took part in the Sports of All Sorts program at the Geneva Centre for Autism. The supportive environment in the Sports of All Sorts program, funded by a GoodLife Kids grant, was a real game-changer for him. Constant encouragement and positive reinforcement gave Lukas a safe space to explore new activities without a fear of being judged. With one-on-one support he played basketball, baseball, tennis, and golf. “We’re so glad to make physical activity a regular part of Lukas’ life and we’ve found ways for him to continue practicing at home,” said Lisa. “We bought a tennis net for the backyard, and now that he’s not afraid, he loves to go to glow-in-the-dark mini-putt with his dad!” As Lukas turned around on the basketball court to wave to his mom, he gave her two big thumbs up and her eyes welled up with tears of joy. “Watching him enjoy himself, I’m overwhelmed with happiness and pride,” she shared. “He has talents! But most of all, he has regained a belief in himself – that he CAN do it – and that is so powerful.”

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