Hey Buddy,let’s go play


Child mentor programme looks for volunteers

If you like kids, it’s the ideal job – and you get to give them back.

The Wakatipu’s Buddy Programme is looking for adults with a few hours to spare to mentor local kids in need of extra support and friendship.

Training is given to volunteers who can spend a couple of hours each week with a child aged between four and 12.

Arrowtown couple Tony and Eileen Burnell recommend it to anyone.

For the past two years they’ve been Big Buddies to six-year old Bailey McIntyre, an Arrowtown School pupil.
“We became involved after hearing about it from a friend who had joined the Buddy Programme and had a great time,” says Eileen.

“We don’t have kids ourselves and had time to spare to spend with Bailey – it’s been very worthwhile for
everyone involved.

“When we first met Bailey, he was a pretty introverted kid and it’s been a pleasure to see him coming out of his shell and having fun.”

Bailey’s mum Katrine sought assistance from the programme after her marriage broke up, which she says affected her kids’ confidence.

Bailey’s bubbly eight-year-old sister Katelyn has already had three different Big Buddies.

“Both Bailey and Katelyn were very shy and would hardly say a word,” says McIntyre.

“People like Tony and Eileen have been a tremendous help to my family during some difficult times.
“It’s a great idea.”

The Burnells take Bailey for a couple of hours on a Wednesday evening – and also have him for some extra time on a Sunday.

“He’s a terrific little lad and we get a lot out of having him around,” Tony explains.

And young Bailey is delighted at the spin-offs from being a Little Buddy.

“I get to do things like go rock climbing, skiing, ice skating and golfing and it’s brilliant,” he says.
Big Buddies are required to be 18 or over and people who volunteer will be matched with a suitable child.
Initial training begins on September 11 and 12.

For more information, contact nanette.benington@southland.familyworks.org.nz