Susan & Jayniah: Gaining A New Perspective
When signing up to be a mentor, it’s easy to focus only on the changes happening with your Little. Bigs are quick to point out however, that they experience many changes due to the relationship as well, because seeing the world through the eyes of a child can open up a whole new world for adults.
Such was the case for Big Sister Susan who is a small business owner, operating a vegan restaurant called Counter Culture. “Being a small business owner it’s hard for me to not be in work mode,” said Sue. “But, when I’m with Jayniah, it’s 100% about her. I love exploring through the eyes of a 10-year-old. We learn together and she keeps me silly. We laugh a lot.”
Before the pandemic hit, the two enjoyed taking in some of Austin’s best outdoor activities. According to her mom, Jayniah has a lot of energy and enjoys being active – something her match addresses. “We love to hike or bike ride if the weather is nice,” said Sue. “We often explore trails that we haven’t been on before. In the summer we do a lot of swimming. Emma Long is our favorite spot.”
But if they are stuck inside? “We like to draw along with YouTube how-to videos,” said Sue, “and we enjoy cooking.” In fact, cooking with Sue is one of Jayniah’s favorite activities. Sue has taken Jayniah to her restaurant, and they’ve also cooked at Sue’s home. Over the holiday the pair made soaps and chocolates and gave them as gifts. According to Sue, Jayniah is always up for trying something new.
“I’ve only seen Jayniah once since the ice storm. This was the first time she saw any amount of snow,” said Sue. “She thought it was fun, but her family’s power was out, so she was pretty cold.”
“I am always amazed at Jayniah’s depth of self-awareness and knowledge about the world around her. Her realization that at times like this, it’s important to have a strong community and neighbors who are there for each other,” said Sue.
It illustrates the growth and impact being matched has had on Jayniah. “At that age I wasn’t thinking at her level!” said Sue. “Seeing her grow into a critical thinking little person has been great. She asks me about my work and my interests. I can see what we do together making an impact on her personality.”
Their match has definitely impacted Sue as well. “I now keep Jayniah in mind when I find a new park, place to swim, or even a new restaurant,” said Sue. “She’s definitely a part of my life like a good friend or family member.”
“If you can commit, I would highly recommend becoming a mentor,” said Sue. “It helps a child, and it will open your world to a small individual that you might not spend time with otherwise.”
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