WOODSTOCK, ON – On Saturday at the PRIDE Family Day in Woodstock, Big Brothers Big Sisters in Oxford County (BBBS Oxford) was proud to announce the start of a new innovative mentoring program designed specifically to connect the local LGBTQ2IA+ community. Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) volunteer Peter Fleming was at the event to congratulate BBBS Oxford on the work done to bring the new PRISM (Pride, Respect, Identity, Safety, Mentoring) program to Oxford County after receiving a $154,900.00 OTF Grow grant over three years to hire PRISM caseworker Amanda Smyth.
“Big Brothers Big Sisters in Oxford have such a positive impact on the lives of so many young people in our community,” said Oxford MPP Ernie Hardeman. “This Ontario Trillium Foundation grant will help create a more inclusive and engaged community in Oxford, and help even more of our youth to reach their full potential.”
The first of its kind in Oxford, PRISM matches self-identifying LGBTQ2IA+ children and youth with an adult who also self-identifies as LGBTQ2IA+ for one-on-one weekly outings. PRISM will foster pride and self confidence, while creating inter-generational connections within the LGBTQ2IA+ community.
“This grant has allowed Big Brothers Big Sisters in Oxford County to ensure a child or youth is provided a safe place to explore their identities, create an empowering relationship with a mentor and connect to the LGBTQ2IA+ community in Oxford County.” – Kristen Ralph, Executive Director, Big Brothers Big Sisters in Oxford County.
Research shows that formal mentoring programs are a powerful, protective factor for this demographic as they develop their own unique sense of self. Volunteer mentors are always extensively screened and properly trained before they are matched. Each match receives the ongoing support of a professional caseworker through Big Brothers Big Sisters
“This investment by the Ontario Trillium Foundation enabling us to hire a PRISM caseworker is great news for LGBTQ2IA+ children and youth in Oxford County, who currently have few resources available to help guide them along their journey.” – Kristen Ralph, Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters in Oxford County.
The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. OTF awarded more than $100 million to some 629 projects last year to build healthy and vibrant communities in Ontario.
About Big Brothers Big Sisters in Oxford County (BBBS Oxford): This year, Big Brothers Big Sisters celebrate 50 years of mentoring in Oxford County. Collectively since 1969, BBBS Oxford has been making a positive difference in the lives of local youth by developing and implementing a wide range of mentoring programs. BBBS Oxford believe in helping children realize their full potential through life-changing relationships with positive role models that inspire and empower them, as individuals and citizens. Proudly serving over 800 local children and youth.
For more information, please contact:
Kristen Ralph, Executive Director
Big Brothers Big Sisters in Oxford County