Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Grande Prairie and Area have launched a new program designed to help LGBTQ2S+ youth in the area. The PRISM program, which stands for pride, respect, identity, safety, mentoring, places youth with a mentor that may have experienced the same things growing up identifying as LGBTQ2S+.

“The youth need that one on one and somebody that knows what it means to be LGBTQ, somebody that has gone through it or is open and willing to learn with them so they’re not doing it alone,” says Intake and Funding Coordinator Claudia Fuentes.

The program is open to youth ages six to 18 and was first started at BBBS in Winnipeg. Fuentes approached Grande Prairie chapter Executive Director Corinne Patterson about bringing the program to the city and she agreed it was needed here.

“[In LGBTQ2S+ youth] the rate of depression and suicide, dropping out of school is three times higher than other groups of youth. The need for support and the need for a caring, supportive mentor for them is even greater,” says Patterson.

Since the program launched on February 1st, Fuentes says the reception has been good. She adds that normally, they have the youth and then have to find mentors for them. This time that wasn’t the case.

“I think we have seven mentors coming in right away coming in so that was really nice to see that there are volunteers out there and people that want to help.”

Anyone interested in learning more about the program or getting involved can reach out to Big Brothers, Big Sisters <a href=”https://grandeprairie.bigbrothersbigsisters.ca/what-we-do/our-programs/”>online</a> or by phone at 780-532-0620.