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'Bigs with Badges' partnership at BGSU continues to be a success

One-on-one mentorship program pairs BGSU Police officers with area youth to build mutual trust and understanding

By Michael Bratton

When Bowling Green State University Police officer Carly Snyder first signed up to serve as a "Big" under the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Ohio (BBBSNWO) "Bigs with Badges" program, she wasn't sure what to expect. One thing Snyder did know, however, was that she wanted to make a difference in a young person's life.

"When I first joined 'Bigs with Badges,' I envisioned all the things I was going to teach my 'Little,' but I never imagined all the things I would learn in return," Snyder said.

The one-on-one mentorship program pairs first responders with area youth to build lasting, meaningful relationships. The goal is to create positive change in the lives of children by fostering strong bonds built on mutual trust and understanding.

Snyder and her "Little" Joslynn, an 8-year-old Perrysburg girl, were the first to be paired when "Bigs with Badges" expanded into Wood County back in April. Now, seven months later, both are nearly inseparable, connecting weekly while learning something new about each other along the way.

"Joslynn has taught me that our favorite things in life can be the things that challenge us the most," Snyder said. "Math and reading challenge her, yet those are the subjects she enjoys most. Meanwhile, she is afraid of heights, but she goes on roller coasters. My 'Little' is one of the bravest people I know, and I admire her drive and curiosity."

BGSU Police has had at least two additional parings under its "Bigs with Badges" partnership since Snyder's sign-on. Chief Mike Campbell said the department is eager to get even more members of the force to join in.

"The 'Bigs with Badges' partnership has been a great opportunity for BGSU Police to connect with and give back to the community," Campbell said. "The connections our staff has made are building lasting, positive relationships. I look forward to other ways the department can collaborate with Big Brothers Big Sisters to further serve the youth of northwest Ohio."

BBBSNWO leaders say "Bigs with Badges" is making a visible difference in the communities where pairings are happening.

"Our 'Bigs with Badges' program is designed to remove the wall of distrust between the community and law enforcement," said Dr. Marvin Whitfield, president and CEO of BBBSNWO. "I am proud to say, as both a person of color and a career law enforcement professional, in less than one year of starting this program locally, we are seeing the wall being dismantled one brick at a time."

With pairings like Joslynn's going strong, Snyder hopes other officers, including those at BGSU and in the surrounding area, take time to join-in and help shape a better future for local youth.

"I have been blessed to have such a gratifying experience through 'Bigs with Badges,'" Snyder said. "It is time well spent and has a positive impact on the community. My 'Little' is such an amazing young person, and I look forward to seeing the incredible person she grows up to be and all the good she does in this world."

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Media Contact | Michael Bratton | mbratto@bgsu.edu | 419-372-6349