Eye On Education: Big Sister Association Empowers Boston Girls

BOSTON (CBS) — When we think about “big sisters,” we often assume that means an adult woman volunteering her time. But in Boston, there is a unique program that connects middle and high school girls.

The Big Sister Association of Greater Boston is celebrating their first decade of success, helping these teens in Boston public schools to become big sisters themselves.

“She tries hard. I know that as a fact and I want to try hard just like her,” Jaylani said.

Eleven-year-old Jaylani is a 5th grader at the Trotter School in Boston. The highlight of her week is meeting with her Big Sister Nelly.

eye on ed big sister Eye On Education: Big Sister Association Empowers Boston Girls

Jaylani (l.) and Nelly, participants in the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston. (WBZ-TV)

“I think what’s most important is that these relationships the longer they go, the bigger the effect is,” Nelly said.

Nelly’s a senior at Boston Latin Academy heading off to college. Mentoring Jaylani has been a big part of her education, too.

“I get community hours, but these were the easiest thing I’ve ever done. I had so much fun doing it!,” she said.

Two girls who might never have met support each other as they talk, draw and play games.

eye on ed big sister2 Eye On Education: Big Sister Association Empowers Boston Girls

Jaylani draws a picture. (WBZ-TV)

“She tells me about her problems, and I realize my problems aren’t that serious. It’s great. I enjoy it,” Nelly said.

The Big Sister high school mentoring academy between Boston Latin Academy and the Trotter School is in its 10th year, and 4,000 girls have already been through the program.

Deb Re, CEO of the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston, feels this program helps both girls flourish – and so does the community.

“But having that someone to listen to you – their academics improve, communication improves with adults that feel better about themselves, so they do better. We know this is true no matter what the age,” Re said.

In fact, Jaylani just ran for office.

“Now she represents the whole 5th grade and I don’t think she would have done that 4 years ago,” Nelly said.

“Like she said, she thinks before I never would have done that and her encouragement helped me,” Jaylani said.

Big Sister Association of Greater Boston is part of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Congratulations to them for being recognized as the national agency of the year!

If you are interested in finding out more about becoming a big sister – go to their website: www.bigsister.org/.

More from Paula Ebben
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