Two Tri-City foundations have donated $22,200 in grants to help mentor at-risk girls.
Both the Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam Community Foundations pooled their resources with the federal government’s Emergency Community Support Fund to help the Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland Study Buddy Program.
The money will go towards weekly, one-on-one mentoring to help girls with school work. Those relationships will last over six months and will include girls aged seven to 17 in Burnaby and New Westminster. Beyond academics, the program is meant to help build girls’ self-esteem.
The funds come at a critical time, according to the regional Big Sisters group. Between the closure of schools and widespread social distancing, in-person Big Sister matches were put on hold, contributing to a sense of isolation which can trigger mental health problems, said a spokesperson for the group in a press release. There are now 135 girls on the group’s waitlist.
“Trauma falls hardest on our youth,” said Hanne Madsen, executive director of the local Big Sisters group in a written statement.
“This pandemic will have a long-lasting impact on their mental, physical and economic health.”