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Big Brothers Big Sisters creating safe space for kids and volunteers

Big Brothers Big Sisters Grande Prairie is creating a safe space for kids and volunteers to use, as a reliable place to hang out.

Donor Relations Coordinator Erika Gilroy says the basement former dance studio is being transformed into a space for both matches, as well as kids on their waiting list to use free of charge.

“We recognize right now with COVID-19 it’s pretty limiting on what they can do, so what we want to do is have a games room and a crafts room and a movie theatre room— just different places for our matches to use,” she says.

She adds the project has been ongoing for a few months, with renovations in the space are currently in the works. She says Big Brothers Big Sisters is currently looking for materials to turn the space into a versatile activity hub.

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Gilroy says the goal is to have the space ready for use prior to, or early into the new year. One of the bottlenecks, however, are the current COVID-19 restrictions which are restricting matches from meeting in person.

“With the new restrictions, it’s kind of put a damper on what our matches can do. We’re hoping to work on the space over the next month or so, [and] hopefully in the new year it will be a space that they can use and we’ll have to see with COVID-19 what that will look like.”

Kyle Evans, a Big Brother with the organization since January 2020, says throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, finding things to do with his matched little sister has been difficult. He adds having a reliably available safe space will dramatically help to reduce anxieties associated with going out.

“It’s so hard to find stuff to do with COVID-19 being a super big problem in this city right now. A lot of places are either closed, there [are] major restrictions, and also the anxiety for both of us is just a big factor.”

“One problem we’ve been facing is the anxiety with the entire thing is a factor when going out, especially for my little sister. I don’t want her to ever have anxiety when we’re hanging out and COVID-19 is making that a big factor,” he says.

Big Brothers Big Sisters posted a wish list on Wednesday stating some of the amenities they are looking for to fill the activity space. These include couches, chairs and bean bag chairs, easels and taper, a theatre-style popcorn machine, yoga or foam mats, RC cars, video game consoles and devices, an air hockey table, and a foosball table.

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