At-Large Boston City Councilor, Ayanna Pressley, knows that youth mentoring is one of the most powerful catalysts we have for creating change among Boston’s youth and families. While mentoring relationships that are professionally made and supported using research-based practices impact one child at a time, they create a ripple effect that is felt throughout the child’s family, peer group, and community. As a Big Sister, the Councilor has experienced the positive effects of mentoring first-hand. “Mentors provide the inspiration, drive, and support necessary to ensure our young people develop a roadmap for academic, professional, and life success,” Pressley said. In order to provide this opportunity for more of Boston’s youth, the Councilor recently launched Ayanna’s BIG Challenge.
Ayanna’s BIG Challenge is a year-long campaign that will recruit 50 women and men each month through Big Sister Association of Greater Boston and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay, which focuses on serving boys in our city. She officially kicked-off the campaign at Big Sister Association’s “Hunt for the Next Big Sister,” held in partnership with Boston radio station, Hot 97, at Blackstone Square in the South End on September 11. Twenty-five women signed up to become Big Sisters that day, including two former Little Sisters! With more than 300 girls currently on our wait list to be matched with a Big Sister, Pressley has her work cut out for her. She will continue to promote her campaign at community gatherings and media appearances throughout the year. “Mentoring is the most effective, most sustainable, most affordable way to make sure our young people get the childhood they deserve and the future they dream of,” said Pressley.
Pressley’s historic win as the first woman of color to be elected to the Boston City Council positions her not only as an ideal spokeswoman for recruiting more mentors, but also as a role model to girls throughout our City. “Growing up, I didn’t have access to programs like Big Sister Association. There weren’t many gender-specific opportunities for me, and so outside of my mother, I really didn’t have adult mentors. As I became more interested in public service, I looked up to Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. She was a black woman, outspoken and eloquent, fiery and passionate who spoke about the issues I was just starting to realize I wanted to work on,” said Pressley of her own path. She hopes that her current position will break down more barriers for the next generation. “Gender is not an obstacle to any opportunity. The critical part is that every girl needs to know that, believe that, and make the choices necessary to make the most of that opportunity.” With the help of Councilor Pressley’s campaign, more girls will have the care, support, and attention of Big Sisters who play a critical role in letting them know they matter.
So, are you up for the Challenge? If you are interested in becoming a Big Sister, click here, and make sure to indicate on your application that you are a part of Ayanna’s BIG Challenge!