Wyatt Belcourt, 9, doesn’t have a dad around, but he does have Kyle Radick.
Radick has been Belcourt’s Big Brother since 2010 and together they like doing everything energetic nine-year-old boys do. For a few hours a week, Belcourt and Radick spend time together doing things like playing dodgeball at Belcourt’s school or going fishing.
At the Vancouver Island Exhibition in August, Radick found out it costs about $7 for a ride on a Ferris wheel. Belcourt discovered his favourite thing at the fair was cotton candy, but the experience was tempered by the stings he got from wasps that tried to force him to share his treat.
Sometimes they just talk, but no matter what they do, it’s their time together that counts.
The problem for other children in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program is there aren’t enough men and women like Radick volunteering as ‘Bigs.’
September is the month Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Vancouver Island calls out for volunteers, but organizers have titled this year’s effort the End the Wait Campaign because there are more boys and girls than ever waiting for “Bigs.”
“We have a wait list for little boys that just grows every year,” said Paulyne Robinson, program manager. “It just grows all the time and I’ve only had two big brothers apply in 2014.”
For the first time, girls are waiting, too.
“I do have a wait list for little girls right now, which I’ve never had before,” Robinson, said.
The benefits of helping a child go both ways.
Radick became a “Big” because, like Belcourt, he grew up “untraditionally,” which in Radick’s case lead to struggles in his teens. He left home at 16 and got in trouble at school and with the police while trying to make his way on his own and for the next 10 years he went through a lot of transitions in life that he said would have been a lot easier if he’d had a stable adult around.
“A lot people of people think it’s selfless to do it, but for me I get a good feeling about hanging out with Wyatt,” Radick said. “I get a good feeling about going to his school and helping him work on stuff that he’s doing. I get to go home with the feeling that maybe I’ve made a difference in his life that day – and this is cliché and whatever, but … there’s always another road you can go down and I can help just one person have a better life at four or five hours a week.”
Robinson said volunteers are all ages and come from all walks of life.
To learn more about the program or volunteer to spend time with a child, please call Robinson at 250-756- 2447, via e-mail at Paulyne@bigsCVI.ca or visit www.BigsCVI.ca.