Feb 10, 2016

Cody's Ms. Wyoming USA Universal promotes Big Brothers Big Sisters

A little time can make a big difference in a kid’s life, so Ms. Wyoming USA Universal 2016, Robyn Beadles of Cody, is centering her platform around Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“I may be one person, but I can be the one person that can make a difference in someone’s life,” Beadles said. “That is my goal through this whole thing is trying to change someone’s life; because once that cycle is broken in her life, she can blossom and do that to someone else.”

Ms. Wyoming USA Universal 2016 — Robyn Beadles of Cody — recently began volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Cody News Co. photo by Matt Naber
The organization pairs up “Bigs” and “Littles” based on their interests and matches are only made it they have a good fit, said Nikki Schleich, program director at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Wyoming. This branch of the national organization covers Park, Big Horn, Fremont, Hot Springs and Washakie counties.

It took about a month to make the match, and Beadles was paired up with a little girl with behavioral issues at the beginning of the year. Since then Beadles’ “Little” has improved academically, socially and increased her self confidence.

These big changes spurred from the little things — having lunch together, going ice skating or swimming, making jewelry and visiting museums.

“I try to expose her to the community as much as I can,” Beadles said. “The deal is if she does well in school and is passing and listening, then it is a reward to hang out with Ms. Robyn.”

Beadles also helps her Little with her social skills by having her interact with her kids, she said.

“I told them, ‘you come from a great home, but some kids don’t get a home like you get, so we need to make them feel special,’” Beadles said.

Beadles recently threw her Little her first birthday party ever and it was the happiest anyone had seen her before.

“She has never been a happy and content child, we want to see her be a happy and content child,” Schleich said.

Her Little loves animals and wants to be a veterinarian, so Beadles plans on taking her to Yellowstone and they will be volunteering at an animal shelter and taking a trip to the animal refuge in Red Lodge, Montana, she said.

“I want her to follow her dreams,” Beadles said. “It just makes me feel good to make a difference in her life.”

Big need in Big Horn Basin
Park County has 39 matches and 15 children on a waiting list — 13 of which are boys ranging from 6-13 years old.

“It is harder to recruit mentors than it is to recruit mentees,” Schleich said, adding that inquiry calls come in daily about possible kids who could benefit from the program.

“They are all different,” Schleich said. “Some are super active and into sports, others like video games and science experiments — we’ve got something for everyone.”

Mentors need to be 18 years old or older, able to make a one-year commitment to spend time with their Little, pass a background check and just have an interest in being a friend to a kid who needs something to look forward to every week.

“With men, I feel they are worried they will take on a fathership role and we don’t want that — just there to be a buddy, like a little brother who needs a positive influence,” Schleich said. “The majority of our kids come from troubled backgrounds.”

The reservation most have is it is such a time commitment, Schleich said.

“We have found that short amount of time makes a huge impact on a child’s life,” Schleich said.

Typically, Bigs spend an hour a week or two hours every two weeks with their Little, but Beadles ups the ante and spends about 15 hours a week with her Little.

According to Big Brothers Big Sisters, after 18 months of spending time with their Bigs, the Littles were:

• 52 percent less likely to skip school
• 46 percent less likely to begin using illegal drugs
• 37 percent less likely to skip a class
• 33 percent less likely to hit someone
• 27 percent less likely to begin using alcohol

It’s not just the Little who benefits from the program, Beadles said.

“She changed my life and I changed hers,” Beadles said. “I have never been around children like that and it opened my eyes that there are troubled children out there and people turn a blind eye to that.”

With Big Brothers Big Sisters as her platform, Beadles intends to draw attention to the organization’s events such as Bowl for Kids Sake which is set for April 15 for high school and college students at Classic Lanes and then the adult tournament on April 16 in Cody.

“We are always planting for little seeds to bloom,” Beadles said. 

For more information on Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Wyoming, visit facebook.com/bbbsnwwy.

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