The SISTER2sister program is a unique year long mentoring & risk management program designed to empower ‘at risk’ teenage girls to turn their troubled lives around. It is an early intervention program that addresses the deeply entrenched intergenerational problems in our disadvantaged youth, and focuses on the core underlying issues, starting with the lack of a stable positive role model.
The aim of the SISTER2sister program is to break the generational cycle of suffering by helping at risk teenage girls to make better choices for a positive future and to equip them with skills for mastering life’s challenges.
Each of the girls in the program is assigned a Big Sister mentor as a positive female role model to provide support, guidance and advice throughout the program.
Big Sister mentors attend a comprehensive two day training course which equips them with the requisite skills and information to ensure that they can handle the various issues which may arise.
Big Sisters and Little Sisters are then matched with factors taken into consideration including personality, location, hobbies and age.
The formal program commences in April with a four day Butterfly Bootcamp, where the Little Sisters meet their Big Sister mentors and together attend various risk management seminars to learn the necessary skills for survival and coping in difficult circumstances together with team building workshops to challenge the girls and encourage them to work together towards goals.
The program continues from April to November with monthly risk management workshops, “Life Changing Experiences” to provide rewarding and unforgettable experiences and to boost the girls’ confidence and self-esteem and valuable one on one time with their Big Sister.
Topics covered at the Bootcamp and monthly workshops include:
- • self-defence
- • keeping out of harm’s way
- • dealing with depression
- • body image/eating disorders
- • self-harm
- • grief and loss
- • healthy body healthy mind
- • cooking healthy meals on a tight budget
- • fitness
- • anger management
- • resilience
- • goal setting
- • job interview skills and resume writing
- • goal setting
- • tapping potential
- • and much more.
The objective of all workshop sessions are closely linked to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human needs. Girls are encouraged to get out of their comfort zones and set goals they never dreamed that they could achieve (e.g. complete their HSC, go to university or travel). With increased confidence and the support of their Big Sister mentor the girls begin to take on new challenges which in turn increase confidence. At monthly sessions each girl in turn shares her progress with her personal goals and the group shows their support.
During the program Big Sisters meet once a month with Team Leaders and psychologists to discuss the progress of their Little Sister. Big Sisters provide a monthly written report on their Little Sister to the Team Leader. Issues are discussed and Big Sisters are supported with professional advice from the psychologists.
At the conclusion of the program in late November, there is a Graduation Ceremony to celebrate completion of the SISTER2sister program. Parents, carers and sponsors are invited to attend. Little Sisters speak about their experiences and receive their graduation certificate.
Unlike many mentor programs the SISTER2sister program continues to support graduates (as needed) even after the girls have graduated.
In addition to the SISTER2sister program, participants and graduates of the program have access to our Butterfly Opportunity program which offers mathematics/IT scholarships, work experience, apprenticeships, employment and much more.
Girls also have access to our Butterfly Support program which is a wraparound service linking girls in to additional support services in the community as needed e.g. emergency accommodation, legal aid and counseling services.
Big and Little Sister graduates stay in regular contact with Life Changing Experiences Foundation. We have a very strong “Sisterhood” alumni with many Big and Little Sister graduates continuing to support the Foundation by attending fundraising events and raising awareness in the wider community.
The SISTER2sister program has changed the lives of over 400 girls. We anticipate that our Little Sisters will blossom and emerge as Big Sister mentors, positively contributing to the community and providing further significant evidence that this program is truly “Life Changing”.
At the end of each annual SISTER2sister program, the girls have been equipped with the knowledge and skills to help them break the cycle of trauma and/or abuse. Through a comprehensive evaluation we have been able to assess that many of the girls who have gone through the mentoring program develop an increased confidence in themselves and their abilities to have greater control over their lives and futures.
Some of the measurable outcomes for the program include:
- Demonstrate positive risk management skills
- Utilise strategies to assist them to deal with their past trauma
- Create a safe environment with the support they need to thrive
- Sustain their achievements from the program
- Achieve their education certification
- Become financially secure through successfully obtaining and retaining employment
- Maintain survival skills independently
- Demonstrate high self worth
- Attract and build positive relationships
- Identify goals and steps to implement and achieve these goals
Over 11 years the SISTER2sister has been witness to longer term benefits to the community in many of the success stories listed below:
- The first person in the family to ever finish high school.
- The first person in three generations to hold down a job.
- Buying a first property by the age of 22.
- Completing TAFE HSC equivalent with a UAI of 99.
- Gaining lead roles in films and stage plays.
- Attending global leadership summits overseas.
- Presenting to youth counsellors and organisations around the country on self-harm issues affecting teenagers and winning a Mental Health Matters Award.
- Graduating with first class honours in Neuroscience.
- Working in remote communities assisting the Indigenous with dental work after completing a degree in Dentistry.
- Working in Paris.
- Successfully obtaining scholarships and/or entry into university to study varying degrees.
- Contributing to a collection of stories in a published book.
- Successfully obtaining work experience in varied fields of photography and hospitality.
- Many girls are now mothers themselves and are living in a safe environment without domestic violence with a partner who works. Almost all of them aspire to go back to complete their studies or gain/resume employment after rearing their children.
“I make a point of keeping in touch with every Little Sister who has been through the SISTER2sister program. From being the first person in three generations to work to graduating with First Class Honours in Neuroscience, the most touching of all successes is that these girls go on to be wonderful mothers”-Jessica Brown (Founder)
Since its inception in September 2003 LCEF has helped over 400 girls and consequently their respective communities, through the SISTER2sister program. The impact this program has on ‘at risk’ teenage youth is primarily through breaking the cycle of poverty, trauma and suffering.
Ways in which the program impacts the community through the girls include:
- Increase in further education and school attendance
- Community ‘wellness’ through personal happiness, fulfillment and recognition of self worth
- Purposeful use of talents to enable a better life for themselves and their community
- Transformation of lives through skills which enable effective coping mechanisms for life’s challenges
- Reduced crime
- Dramatic decline in anti-social behavior
- Dramatic decline in domestic violence
- Substantial increase in part time employment
- Decline of girls living on benefits (with the exception of living away from home rental assistance)
- Management of mental illness
- Dramatic decrease in substance abuse
- Reduction of unplanned teenage pregnancy
- Education of the wider community of issues that affect teenagers at risk
- Only through the generosity of corporate companies, community services, local business and volunteers can we continue to provide this much needed service to our communities. Please join and support us in facilitating and celebrating the empowerment of at risk teenage girls.
Q When does the SISTER2sister program start?
A The SISTER2sister program starts in April of each year for every city where it is held. Prior to the commencement of the program you want to join there will be:
- A Recruitment and Selection Process for Big Sister mentors in February;
- Mentor Excellence Training over a full weekend for the Big Sister mentors in March
Q Do you have any information nights where I can find out more about voluntary roles within the organisation?
A Yes we have regular information nights – please call the office on 02 9211 9129 for dates
Q Do you plan to move to other states?
A Yes, we are committed to becoming a self sustaining program in order to branch out to other states. To be informed of our movements, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to be added to our database to receive our e-newsletter.
Q What does the SISTER2 sister program calendar look like?
A Click here to see a sample of the SISTER2sister program calendar and the commitments for the year.
Q I would like to be a Big Sister mentor but the program doesn’t start for a while, is there anything else I can do to help?
A Yes, you can join the phenomenal network of inspirational women in the following ways:
- Start a SASSI team within your company to organise events to fundraise. Click here to find out more.
- Apply to be a volunteer on our website to be contacted for skilled help and fundraising events assistance. Click here to find out more.
- Set up a Hero page to take on challenges and raise funds at http://www.everydayhero.com.au/
- Call us at the office on 02 9211 9129 for other current ways you can assist