CAMDEN — Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine has received a $30,000 Innovation Grant to help launch a new program that links local law enforcement one-to-one with Augusta youth.
The new program, Bigs with Badges, is a partnership matching students from Sylvio J. Gilbert Elementary School with Augusta Police Department law enforcement and first responders in long-term relationships that support local kids facing adversity.
The grant is from United Way of Kennebec Valley. BBBS of Mid-Maine Executive Director Gwendolyn Hudson said. “Through this unique, collaborative partnership, our new Bigs with Badges program, the first of its kind in Maine, will match police and other mentors in law-enforcement, with children, creating positive, one-to-one relationships that will no doubt ignite the power and promise of local youth.”
The program also aims to prevent children from seeing law enforcement as an adversary. Courtney Yeager, UWKV executive director, said BBBS of Mid-Maine’s program helps address entrenched issues with a novel solution that is both collaborative and effective.
“This groundbreaking program will foster positive interactions between children and law enforcement—building relationships that will benefit our community for generations to come,” Yeager said.
The Innovation Fund, established this year, launches creative solutions and approaches that will lead to breakthroughs in priority areas and help redesign the future of the Kennebec Valley.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine pairs youth ages 5-14 with caring responsible role models in one-to-one friendships in seven counties in eastern, coastal and central Maine. BBBSMM partners with parents, in conjunction with more than 30 schools and hundreds of volunteers and generous partners in the community, to help children have higher aspirations, greater confidence, better relationships, avoid risky behaviors and achieve greater educational success.
PHOTO: Big and Little matches between local youth and law enforcement, like this one in Birmingham, Ala., will be made in Maine for the first time, as part of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine’s new mentoring program Bigs with Badges. (Submitted photo)