The thought of transition often carries with it a less than desirable connotation, even a sense of hesitation. It can be a messy and awkward reminder that what we’re comfortable with is slowly changing and is not the norm anymore.
However, at BBBS we’re actually really excited about the transition we see happening with many of our matches- that transition being the move from the Traditional program to the ACES program. In fact, we feel that it is an amazing door-opener to take matches to new levels of growth.
The ACES program applies to matches with students in 8th grade through college, focusing on college and career planning. It provides additional academic and goal-setting support to students as they navigate decisions in their post-secondary journey. There simply cannot be enough support offered as students consider their options, and we are proud to have so many businesses, professionals, and colleges playing a role in helping students in our program.
We believe the most crucial support comes into play from the Bigs who walk with the students in this process. Many of the Bigs entering the ACES program have been matched with their Little for many years and have likely seen their Little grow from a playful child into a not-so-little-person anymore. One Big recently reminisced on the early days that his Little would ask unending questions on outings and fall asleep in the car on the way home. Now he is happy to get some time with his teenage Little away from his phone.
We see how this relational history comes into play in the way it allows a Big to have a greater impact as their Little begins to navigate the choppy waters of high school and after. There is a trust and stability that comes with a long-term relationship. Although a match may transition into ACES, that aspect does not have to change. In fact, the relationship provides a solid foundation for a student to be able to explore and consider opportunities ahead. In addition to trips to get ice cream or pick-up games, Bigs in the ACES program can now begin to incorporate more conversations regarding internships, jobs, and future dreams.
It can be easy to see the stage of teenage disengagement that often comes along with the late middle school and early high school years as a sign that things just aren’t the way they used to be or that maybe a student has lost interest. However, the strength of mentorship shines in transitions as Bigs can be a bridge from where a Little has been to where they hope to get. We recognize that life-changing friendships don’t happen overnight or without some challenges, but the journey is more than worth it. The ACES program facilitates a smoother transition for students and prepares them to play an active role in building a stronger community in Kansas City.