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Last weekend the Social Development Department hosted a refresher workshop for all Mentors of the Big Brother Big Sister Program at the Maria's By the Sea, reminding them of their role as a Mentor. The workshop was also an opportunity to train new Mentors and an orientation session for the Parents and new little sisters and brothers.

The program was conducted by Dr. Doris C. Battiste, Associate Campus Administrator and Chief Student Officer responsible for the supervision and management of all areas in that division on the Campus of the University of the Virgin Islands. Dr. Battiste is a member of the National Association for Student Affair Administrators, the International Mentoring Association, and the American Counseling Association.

4436a(3)[/photo]Assisting Dr. Battiste was Ms. Dahlia Stridiron who is currently employed as a Guidance Counselor with the V.I. Department of Education, St. Thomas U.S.V.I. She graduated with a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Psychology in 1999 and her Masters Degree in Counseling and Guidance in 2007. Ms Stridiron said she becomes excited working with children and said it is the most rewarding experience.

The program, highly recognized as one that was well needed in the community, received a great response. Ms. Stacy Stoutt, Program Coordinator said this year was different since previously there were more little ones than Mentors, but this year they have more Mentors than little ones.

Ms. Stoutt said that they now have a total of 23 Mentors including 13 old Mentors and 10 new ones. Ms. Stoutt said the Mentorship Program started since 1999 and was restructured in 2006.

4436a(2)[/photo]The New Mentors were responsible for undergoing the mandatory training session and accepting the policies and confidentiality of their role in the Mentorship Program. The Mentors were taught that they are not the parent of the child and they are to keep communication with the parent. They are to look out for the interests of the child and help to develop those interests. Dr. Battiste said that the child is placed with a Mentor based on the need of the child and that they never match a male Mentor with a female child. According to Dr. Battiste, Jesus is the greatest Mentor.

The little brothers and sisters were able to meet their new Mentors at the workshop for the first time and had their first one on one talk with parent, child and mentor.

When asked what he thinks the program can do for him, one little one positively replied “stop you from being bad”.

Dr. Battiste said Parents are to look for signs in the little ones to know it is time for a Mentor who may sometimes be easier to talk to than the parent. Dr. Battiste said such signs includes being absent from school, bullying, anti-social behavior, defensiveness and acts of violence.

At the end of the workshop, Mentors had the opportunity to socialize with their new little sisters and brothers. The members of the Program also took the opportunity to attend the YEP and BMSA Soapbox Races at the HLSCC on Sunday as an ideal outing for the big brothers and sisters with their little sisters and brothers.

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