Big In Blue Program takes off in Rapid City
Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Black Hills is the 37th state to implement the Bigs In Blue Program that matches youth with police officer mentors.
RAPID CITY, S.D. — Big Brothers/Bis Sisters is a nationwide mentoring program and locally has been in Rapid City for 60 years, providing children facing adversity with adult mentors to be someone in their corner and reach their full potential in life.
Locally, the organization recently began the Bigs in Blue Program which is offered as a part of their community matches.
Nicole Burdick, Exec. Dir. Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Black Hills, says, “It’s just like a normal Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, except it’s a partnership with law enforcement, so having police officers as Bigs, they’ll come and pick them up, take them on community activities. We’re even looking at putting together activities for just the Bigs in Blue Program, like the other day for campus kids that we had, we had the SWAT team and all the cars and everything. The kids got a ride in the SWAT team got dropped off in front of the office in a SWAT car, so just a lot of cool things for the kids to see. I mean, the premise of the program is to help bridge that relationship between law enforcement and the community. So they’re doing a pretty good job already and in really helping build that relationship.”
The program includes female officers, but the need for male mentors is greater.
Burdick says, “But a lot of these kids, especially the, the little brothers, are looking for that connection and since COVID, they’ve been hungry for that connection. And that’s what this this program is, is hoping to eliminate is that hunger for a relationship with somebody.”
On an application form, the child or ‘Little’ gets a choice to have a police officer as a mentor or ‘Big.’
Burdick adds, “When we do the interview process with the Littles and their families, that’s something that we discuss. We always want to make sure that their programs are well defined, what it is that the parent and the Little has for expectations and then we always ask them, is this something that you’d be interested in?”
For Police Officer, Morgan Smith, it was a person reason to sign onto the program. He wants to make a change in his community.
Smith says, “And it was a very personal reason. Every day, I come into contact with kids and it’s not always in the best of circumstances. I felt like this was an opportunity to go outside the role of law enforcement and really get in touch with the kids of Rapid City and stuff like that.”
Smith hopes that the program can help connect the community and law enforcement, and says, “Everything helps in changing the perspective with kids so that they grow up and they realize that we’re not the bad guys or we really don’t want to be perceived as that way. And I feel like this is a program that helps maybe change that perspective for the future.”
The Bigs in Blue is just one way to ignite the power and promise of youth in our area.
Burdick says, “What I really want to know about the community to know, not only about this program, is our community needs people to really step up and become a village to help our children. They’re struggling right now and not only Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and what other youth serving organizations are seeing in this community is heartbreaking. Our kids need us to step up. So even if you’re not a police officer, but you really, really want to become a Big through Big Brothers/Big Sisters, we need you.”