‘Bigs in Blue’ launches in Kannapolis

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 26, 2017

KANNAPOLIS — Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Carolinas is introducing a mentoring program to help children while building positive relationships between law enforcement and the community.

“Bigs in Blue” is a one-to-one mentoring program that will connect youths with police officers in communities throughout the nation, aiming to build strong, trusting and lasting relationships. Mentors, or “Bigs,” will meet with the youths at lunchtime once a week throughout the school year, enjoying time together and building relationships that foster personal growth and academic achievement.

Big Brothers Big Sisters is launching the program with six initial “Big-Little” matches between officers of the Kannapolis Police Department and students at Forest Park Elementary School.

Officers participating include Michael Smith, Lemar Harper, David Archie, Brett Wilhelm, Wesley Wilson and Stephen Johnson

The new matches will bring the total number of Big-Little mentoring relationships at Forest Park to 13. Big Brothers Big Sisters established a school-based program at Forest Park in 2015.

“We at Forest Park are so excited to have this opportunity for our students and to continue to build relationships with our surrounding community,” Principal Josh Sain said. “We’re very grateful to Big Brothers and Big Sisters for helping to make this partnership happen. Our students are lucky to have members of our law enforcement who are willing to give time out of their day to support our students. They are just as lucky as well because I know they will learn so much from our students.”

“Big Brothers Big Sisters is excited to create and support strong and enduring relationships between police officers and youth in our community. We know that children who have one-to-one mentors demonstrate increased self-confidence and are less likely to engage in risky behaviors,” said Connie Rheinecker, area director for Big Brothers Big Sisters in Cabarrus County.

“Our officers are committed to helping young people in our community. One of our primary goals is to develop strong relationships with everyone we serve — especially our youth. We do this through a variety of programs such as this partnership and with one-on-one personal interactions every day. We look forward to building new friendships and bonds with the children at Forest Park,” Kannapolis Police Chief Woody Chavis said.

The Big Brothers Big Sisters program began in Cabarrus County in 2004 with the belief that inherent in every child is the ability to succeed and thrive in life. In 2016-17, the agency placed and supported more than 170 Cabarrus County children with a mentor.

Today, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Carolinas serves children ages 5 through 18 in Cabarrus, Mecklenburg and York counties through monitored matches between adult volunteers (Bigs) and children (Littles).

For more information on how to support Big Brothers Big Sisters in Cabarrus County, visit bbbscentralcarolinas.org or like the organization on Facebook, www.facebook.com/BigBrothersBigSistersCabarrus.