Fostering relationships on the snow

 

Wiwchar and Jayden warm up at their first day of the season Jan. 8. | PHOTO JEAN STRONG

Five years ago Corey Wiwchar met Jayden and they became friends for the first time. They play board games, go fishing, snowboard and walk Wiwchar’s dog — normal friend stuff. Except while Jayden was eight years old, Wiwchar was buying a home, getting married and starting a family.

The friendship may seem unlikely, but Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) Kamloops has been setting up similar matches for years.

Community members volunteer to spend time with a child and are matched up based on shared interests. They spend time together at different activities and events. The program provides a way for kids to gain experiences, mentorship and friendship and for volunteers to give back and learn from their little “brother” or “sister.”

Wiwchar and Jayden have taken part in many activities together over the years. Jayden even enjoys dinner at Wiwchar’s home with his wife and two-year-old daughter and has met Wiwchar’s family and friends. Wiwchar takes Jayden to shop for his mother’s Christmas present and helps him work through the crazy world of junior high.

“We have things that are traditions for us,” Wiwchar said. “There’s things we look forward to and that’s kind of cool.”

Snowboarding together at Sun Peaks tops the list. Every two weeks the pair make the trip up to the mountain for a day on the slopes. As a growing child, buying the necessary gear was expensive. But thanks to a partnership between BBBS and the Bluebird Day Fund at Sun Peaks, Jayden doesn’t have to worry about replacing his board or buying a lift pass.
Since 2012, the sports mentorship program has provided children at BBBS equipment, day passes and lunch for days on the hill, making winter sports more accessible.

Wiwchar said the program is essential for him and Jayden to enjoy snowboarding together.
“Without it, it wouldn’t be possible for us to go as much as we do.”

But more than the adventures, Wiwchar cherishes the relationship they have formed and how he has watched Jayden grow.

“We can have more of a conversation now, he wants to know how I’m doing,” said Wiwchar. “He’s becoming more confident. He’s a pretty gentle person by nature but he is becoming more outgoing.

“He’s becoming a young man now, I want to encourage him to go to university and talk about what he wants to do after he’s done high school.”

As of Jan. 1 a temporary hold was placed on new one-to-one matches at BBBS due to instability in funding. To donate or volunteer with BBBS or to learn more visit
bbbskamloops.ca.

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