Have you ever noticed that a lot of great sports movies have a training montage? That describes the work Christian and Joe are going through as Big and Little Brothers.
Have you ever noticed that a lot of great sports movies have a training montage? Athletes race down busy urban streets, dodging cars and pedestrians while a heavy bass beat carries them through the masses. The training montage has become such a sports movie gimmick that it has been used to move the plot along in pretty much every sports film ever made. Without it, we wouldn’t all feel the urge to run upstairs every time “Eye of the Tiger” comes on.
For Little Brother Christian, this “you can achieve anything” feeling has come to fruition through his practice of Karate. Christian started taking Karate classes earlier this year at Glovers Martial Arts Academy in Hendersonville. His Big Brother Joe enrolled him in the hopes that it would be a way for Christian to be active, healthy, and to boost his confidence. Christian has really flourished in his classes and has already moved to a yellow belt. Joe has remarked that Christian’s confidence has grown substantially through his involvement.
There is a myth that in the early days of martial arts practice that there were only two colors a student’s belt could be – white or black. According to the myth, new martial arts fighters were given fresh clean belts when they first started. Over the years the belt darkens because of the student’s hard work mastering their technique, and eventually it turns black. Not widely known, the myth underscores the the generally accepted belief that it takes hard work to earn – or learn – anything worthwhile.
In our program, there are a lot of learning curves for Bigs and Littles. The kids we serve seldom come to us with, using the Karate metaphor, a clean, crisp, white belt. For many of them, hard work or hard living is not something that is new. In our experience, it is the volunteers who come with the white belt. They are new to mentoring, just entering the match, so to speak – walking onto the mat for the first time, crisp, clean, and new. Through their match, as the relationship builds, they begin to master the sometimes-difficult-but-always-rewarding lesson of being a Big. Slowly their belt darkens.
Big Brother Joe is a great example. When he was first matched with Christian, he noticed that Christian was not very active and lacked exposure to activities that would boost his self-esteem and help him interact with others. Instead of staying on the sidelines and allowing Christian to face these struggles alone, Joe stepped onto the mat. He helped find an activity that sparked Christian’s interest and enrolled him in Karate.
That is what being a Big Brother or Big Sister is all about. It is a willingness to help a child in need find what makes them happy, and help them pursue it. In our program, we ask our Littles to name their hopes and dreams. But youth enrolled in Big Brothers Big Sisters know that merely having a dream does not make it come true. These kids face poverty, hunger, violence, and chaotic homes. Their hopes and dreams might be to finish high school, or to find a good job. Those are solid dreams, but we know the kids have the potential to aspire to even more. They may just need a little help getting there. And it takes work to achieve those dreams.
Defending a child’s potential is what we do. When we match a Big and Little, the responsibility of that child’s success is shared among us. The agency, parent, volunteer, and child are all a part of the journey to achieve each Littles’ hopes and dreams. While we are not giving out physical white belts to our Bigs, we do hope they work toward their Little’s potential. We hope that they strive to ignite the potential of their Little Brother or Sister.
While there might not be any music in the background, the work is similar to the famous sports movie montage. Here is the place where both Big and Little can say, “I mean business.”
While Christian is still working hard to get to his black belt in Karate, Joe continues to work at his black belt as a Big Brother. Both of them are training hard.
This blogpost was written by Shelbie English, the Henderson County program coordinator.