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This month we’re featuring CTF prevention partner Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Missouri, Columbia, for their efforts in providing training to parents of at-risk children to be the primary role model in their child’s life.  Additionally, children are matched with a Big Brother or Big Sister who will be a secondary support to the child. Together the child and their mentor can go out in the community and participate in activities that offer new experiences, expand existing interests or just simply spend quality time together. The Big Brothers Big Sisters program has been operating nationally for more than 100 years, and for 44 years in Columbia.  Many of the children involved in the program come from single parent homes, are children of parents who are incarcerated, or are being raised by grandparents.  We spoke with Sara Echternach, Community Based Coordinator and Georgalu Swoboda, Executive Director about the program.

AUDIO: Echternach talks about the recruiting process for finding kids for the program.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Missouri works from the Search Institute’s Asset Building program.  Grant money from the Children’s Trust Fund helps the program provide education to parents in the home as well as build relationships in the schools.

AUDIO: Swoboda and Echternach talk about the added benefit CTF gives their program in homes and schools.

Swoboda says there are many ways the program has been proven successful. She says national research shows that children involved in the program statistically have lower drug use, do better academically, have an easier time socially, and are less likely to become pregnant than their peers who are at risk and not involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters.  Additional research shows program alumni are more likely to have college degrees, make more money, have stronger relationships, and become more involved in their community as volunteers or leaders.

AUDIO: Echternach and Swoboda discuss long-term involvement in the program.