Plea for more buddies

Buddying up: Big Buddy Patrick Davis and Little Buddy Liam Dredge, 10, enjoy the Mt Creighton walk near Queenstown

If you’d like to make a positive difference in a youngster’s life, here’s your chance.

Queenstown’s Big Buddy programme, with support from Mountain Scene and MediaWorks, is appealing for locals willing to spend two or three hours a week with a child needing extra adult support.

Right now, 28 Big Buddies are matched with 28 Little Buddies in the Wakatipu.

“We’ve always got a few [youngsters] on the waiting list, but not as many as the cities,” local programme coordinator Nanette Benington says.

She’s calling for either males, females or couples to join a training programme to become Big Buddies.

“Obviously, you’ve got to like working with children and have a bit of enthusiasm.

“Just doing fun, low-cost activities is the key, like walking, biking, baking.”

Now and again there’s an organised outing for all the buddies, like a recent luge excursion shouted by Skyline Queenstown.

Benington asks Big Buddies to commit to at least a year to 18 months.

She says children aged four to 12 get referred by schools and social agencies like Queenstown Lakes Family Centre and Happiness House and sometimes Child, Youth and Family.

“It can be for a variety of reasons – they might have a solo parent, a parent might have just died, that sort of thing.”

Benington says feedback from schools and other referrers is that Little Buddies “have better social skills, improved confidence and are often better behaved at home and at school”.

“They thrive on the one-to-one attention, really.”

Would-be Big Buddies should email Nanette Benington: