Stories: A high school senior serves as a mentor to a child with special needs, and both experience benefits

Your Support Impacts LivesThis story comes courtesy of Dana Mister with Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Greater Memphis, a United Way partner agency which develops positive mentoring relationships impacting the lives of young people ages 5 through 18. As with all client stories, names are changed to protect privacy.

Matt knew he wanted to help his community. As a high school senior, he wanted to do something special for someone else and make a difference. And that’s exactly what he did in 12-year-old Taylor’s life.

Taylor is a special needs child just entering his teenage years. Matt understood the challenges he would face in making a mentoring relationship with Taylor work.

“I wanted to have an impact on Taylor’s life and be someone that he could come to in time of trouble and need,” Matt said.

Utilizing agency resources, Matt worked hard to help Taylor learn how to speak more clearly and communicate more effectively. They spent time throwing the baseball with one another and playing other outside games that helped Taylor get more coordinated and familiar with playing sports.

“My experience as a ‘big brother’ this year has been awesome,” Matt said of his meetings with Taylor. “Every week I look forward to the time I will get to spend with my ‘little brother’. It has been an amazing experience and I will always remember this opportunity!”

The high point in Matt and Taylor’s relationship was when Matt could see he was making a connection when his little pal with special needs smiled back at him. Playing games like Bingo or HotHoops made for a stronger bonding experience between the two. Matt learned that by mentoring Taylor, he also felt better about himself by contributing to his community.

Taylor’s mother has also noticed a difference since her son has met with his mentor. She says, “having a ‘big brother’ like Matt is the best thing that could have ever happened to Taylor!”

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