Sisterly Help in Highlands

One-to-one mentoring

Looking for a good female role model for her namesake daughter, Amelia turned to Highlands County Big Brothers Big Sisters to find the assistance she needed.

The 5-year-old Amelia needed help with reading and math. She lagged behind most of the students in her kindergarten class and did not know her basic sight words.

Amelia earned mostly D and F grades and needed more specialized than what was available at the school. Unfortunately, there were not Big Sisters available when her mother submitted her application.

Over the next two years, she attended BBBS events and ate lunch with the BBBS Mentor Manager at her school, all the while hoping to be matched with a Big Sister some day.

on Sept. 26, 2016, it finally happened. Amelia, then 7, met Kami.

Kami was a new board member for BBBS and a community partner through her job at Highlands Regional Medical Center. A mother of three, Kami lives by the motto that, through education, there is nothing you can’t achieve in life.

At Kami and Amelia’s match meeting, Amelia was so proud to have a Big Sister that when her classmates asked who Kami was, Amelia exclaimed, “She’s MY Big Sister!”

In addition to vowing to become great friends, Kami and Amelia set goals to improve Amelia’s reading, spelling and math skills.

The one-to-one mentoring that BBBS provides, thanks to a partnership with United Way of Central Florida, provides at-risk youth in Highlands County with positive role models who can educate and share experiences and resources with students.

During one of their weekly meeting at Amelia’s school, Kami realized that one hour a week was not enough to make the kind of progress that was needed.

Amelia still did not know the basic sight words, did not perform well on her spelling tests and she sometimes became upset and angry when she could not answer a question correctly.

Amelia felt deleted in class and needed more help if she was to be promoted to the next grade level.

Kami worked with Amelia’s teacher to develop a strategy to help her achieve grade-level promotion.

After working with the school to allow Kami more time with Amelia, they were finally seeing results. And as Amelia started earning better grades, she also started smiling more.

after one year and feeling less frustrated, Amelia took the initiative to read more books on her own. Her reading and writing fluency improved and finally got on-level with her words. Amelia also earned her first A on a math test.

Being a Big can impact the life of a child positively and for the rest of their life. over the course of just one year, Amelia’s quality of life improved dramatically.

Amelia now has the initiative to do her homework, even when Kami is not around, and is regularly earning A’s. Amelia was even able to avoid remediation in school.

“She has helped me a lot,” Amelia said. “I am now enjoying reading and math!”