Building forts and friendships: John & Zane’s story | Big Brothers Big Sisters Kansas City

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Building forts and friendships: John & Zane’s story

Zane is an energetic 11 year-old with a big imagination and endless creativity. John is a born-and-raised Kansas Citian who works at a local accounting firm in the northland.

Together, they’re a Big and Little with a serious passion for building box forts.

How it all started

A few years ago, John got a chance to see the BBBSKC program in action when his roommate got matched with a Little. He enjoyed hanging out with his roommate and his Little and decided that he wanted to get matched, too!

In January of 2018, John was officially matched with Zane.

“Zane has a ton of energy and always has a fun fact to share with you that he just learned from YouTube,” said John. “He was super talkative right off the bat. I’m usually more of a reserved person, but his eagerness helped launch the friendship on a really good foot!”

While Zane and John love to go hiking, play laser tag at Main Event, and even go to Worlds of Fun every now and then, their favorite thing to do is build box forts!

Zane the builder

“He first got into box forts through YouTube — there’s a YouTube channel that he follows that is always building huge box forts,” said John. “He was very excited to try it, so we went to Walmart, loaded up on cheap boxes, and got to work.”

For their first box fort, Zane wrote down the main concept based on the YouTube videos he had watched and also drew up a bunch of ideas for what they could add to the box fort to make it “even cooler.”

Their first box fort was a movie theater. Since then, they’ve built seven more.

“He would build one every week if he could,” said John. “He always wants to make it more complex and more fun — his creativity is endless.”

As Zane’s designs for box forts get bigger and better, John has seen him grow as a person, too.

“Early on, he would talk nearly nonstop — now he really wants to engage in a two-way conversation. He wants to know what I think and what I want to talk about,” said John. “It’s cool to see his friendships develop with me and others as he learns ways to become a better friend.”

Looking back, John is glad he took the leap and decided to become a Big.

“Early on, I was a little worried, like, am I going to be good at this? Am I sure I can handle this? But taking the step anyway was a great decision,” said John. “Its been so meaningful to be there as a Big not just to have fun, but for when he really needs someone to lean on, too.”

“I make sure he knows that no matter what’s going on, I’ll be here for him to listen, to talk through things — and of course, to build more box forts.”