Through our partnership with the Foundation and our collaboration with Caron Treatment Centers, we can help tackle the opioid crisis by providing our adult mentors with prevention-based training to empower their young mentees to avoid substance abuse.

Marcus Allen CEO
Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence Region

Pictured: Terence Simmons, Independence Blue Cross associate, Blue Crew volunteer, and “Big” for the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program, with his “Little” at Russell Byers Charter School

Addressing Health Priorities

Tackling a Public Health Crisis Together, One Child at a Time

It’s impossible to ignore the devastating impact the nation’s opioid crisis is having on our communities, particularly in the greater Philadelphia region. In 2016 alone, opioids accounted for approximately 80 percent of drug-related deaths in the city.

What’s often overlooked is how easily children can become caught in the grip of opioid and substance abuse, whether because someone close to them is struggling with addiction or even as users themselves.

Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence Region (BBBS Independence) saw an opportunity to use the powerful one-to-one relationships between their adult volunteers, known as "Bigs," and the children ages 6 through 18 they mentor, called "Littles," to help tackle this public health epidemic through prevention and education.

Keeping the lines of communication open

With funding from our Foundation’s Supporting Treatment and Overdose Prevention (STOP) initiative, BBBS Independence is collaborating with Caron Treatment Centers (Caron) — a respected national addiction and behavioral health care provider — to deliver its Mentor Education Prevention Program and expand it as a model for BBBS chapters throughout Pennsylvania and across the country.

During their orientation, BBBS Independence adult mentors receive prevention-based training and education from Caron staff. They learn to better understand the risks for opioid and substance abuse their mentees face and to adopt effective strategies to address addiction if it’s present in their mentee’s family.

Keeping the lines of communication open is crucial, so Bigs can effectively help their Littles successfully navigate personal challenges that may be a catalyst for substance abuse and help them avoid putting their health and future in jeopardy.

Giving every child a chance to thrive

The collaboration with Caron has also provided the BBBS Independence leadership team a seat at the table with key stakeholders at national, state, and local levels for conversations about strategies for prevention and education.

It is also positioning them to marshal additional support and resources to continue to help break the cycle of addiction.

Funding alone won’t solve the opioid epidemic, but by working together it’s possible to prevent children from engaging in risky behaviors to give them the best chance to succeed and thrive.

The Mentor Education Prevention Program helps strengthen the one-to-one relationship between Big Brothers Big Sisters adult mentors and their young mentees to break the cycle of addiction.

A Closer Look

Grant funding through the STOP initiative supported five community-based treatment and prevention programs that are working to combat the opioid epidemic.

Learn More