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Free Science Center of Iowa Workshops for Littles & Bigs!

July 17, 2014

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa and The Science Center of Iowa (SCI) are excited to announce a series of free science workshops for Littles and Bigs to attend this fall at the SCI.

Workshops will take place on scheduled Saturdays from 10:30-11:30 am in the Iowa Learning Classrooms located at the SCI (unless otherwise noted). All workshops are designed to promote a creative learning environment for the age group noted (it is not required your Little fall within the age group).

  • Space Exploration Workshop- Participants will explore space and rocketry. The workshop for ages 8-12 will explore the night sky in the SCI’s Star Theater. They will create seltzer rockets, water rockets and soda can rockets.
    Please note, the workshop for ages 13+ will meet at Water Works Park West to allow for additional space for rocket launches. Participants will create real rockets to launch as they experiment with rocket construction, rocket trajectory and launching techniques. October 11th (Ages 8-12) & October 18th (Ages 13+).
  • Solar Eclipse Event- Shattering Silence at the State Capitol. Thursday, October 23rd from 4-6:30 pm (All Ages).
  • Science Celebration!- SCI’s staff will present a live science program, followed by a pizza party and gift presentation. Littles will receive certificates of participation and science kits that feature tools and information for future experiments. All workshop participants will also receive vouchers to a Documentary IMAX at SCI’s Blank IMAX Dome Theater. November 1st from 11 am-1 pm (All Ages).

Following each workshop, participants are encouraged to visit SCI’s exhibits free of charge. To attend any or all of the workshops, please email Sara at It is not required to attend all of the workshops.


Why should you sign up to be a Big Brother or Big Sister?

January 9, 2014

2014 is here! Did you make a New Year’s Resolution? Decide to make a difference this year. Sign up to be a mentor to a child in need of a role model. Sign up to be a friend. Sign up to change a life.

January is National Mentoring Month, and we are bringing you our top reasons why you should become a Big Brother or Sister. See our list below, and follow along with Facebook and Twitter throughout the month of January. We will post these reasons along with stories, pictures and more ways to get involved.  Why should you sign up to be a Big Brother or Big Sister? Here’s 15 reasons.

  1. You get to act like a kid again.
  2. It is a great way to meet new people while doing something that matters.
  3. There is more to life than exercising.
  4. You wouldn’t be where you are today it if wasn’t for mentors in your own life.
  5. You would have access to free tickets to Iowa & Iowa State sporting events.
  6. You will be making a difference in the life of a child.
  7. You can go to Sky-Zone and act half your age.
  8. Because every kid deserves a chance.
  9. When else would you get to sit down and play UNO or Candyland?
  10. Because investing in our youth is an investment in the future of our community
  11. You’ve really been wanting to see Frozen, but you are too embarrassed to go by yourself.
  12. Because you will get as much out of it, and maybe more, as a child will.
  13. Who doesn’t love the Zoo?
  14. You can be a determining factor for better grades, better attendance, improved attitude and increased responsibility for a child who may be struggling.
  15. Your Little Brother or Sister will care for you unconditionally if you allow them to.

Help us make 2014 the best year yet, for a child right here in Central Iowa and for you. Sign up to be a mentor today.

Match Story: Garrett & Ahsaan

December 18, 2013

We are celebrating another great year here at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa! This year we made new matches,  supported on-going matches and enjoyed watching these friendships grow. Check out Garrett & Ahsaan’s story- it is sure to warm your heart. They have been matched for more than three years!

Garrett Christeson and his Little, Ahsaan, were first matched in July of 2010, and their time together has been full of fun, excitement and growth for both Garrett and Ahsaan. Garrett has watched Ahsaan grow from a shy, timid and difficult student into a smart, outgoing and courteous young man. “He has improved his grades each year,” says Garrett, “and he seems to be enjoying school more than he was 3 years ago.”

The highlight of Garrett and Ahsaan’s match came this fall when they attended the Iowa vs. Michigan State game on October 5th. They toured the press box and met ESPN announcers as well as Hawkeye great Ed Podolak and Voice of the Hawkeyes, Gary Dolphin.

The best part? Garrett and Ahsaan even got to stand on the sidelines during the pregame warm-up and be next to the players. As part of BBBSCI’s Kick-Off Kids program, sponsored by Allied Insurance, Garrett and Ahsaan were even filmed on the sidelines and announced on the big screen at the beginning of the game.  “It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and an amazing experience that neither of us will ever forget,” says Christeson.

Garrett and Ahsaan often enjoy outdoor activities together. They like to go to the park, play catch, watch the iCubs and they have even tried ice skating. Garrett encourages anyone who is interested in becoming a Big to do so immediately. “Every moment is an opportunity to make a difference in a child’s life,” says Garrett. “My favorite part is having an excuse to act like a kid again and being able to see the world through the eyes of a child, just as it should be.”

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Garrett & Ahsaan at the Iowa vs Michigan State football game!

Winter Stories that will Warm Your Heart

December 5, 2013

It’s already December 5th, and the weather seems to be getting colder by the day. As a way to give you a look at the relationships that are built through the programs at BBBSCI, we are bringing you a story each week to warm your heart and counteract these winter chills. Cozy up and read of the difference our volunteers are making in the lives of hundreds of children in Central Iowa. We know it will make you smile.

Doug and Landon

BB Doug and LB Landon

Doug Hutchinson, the Volunteer Enrollment Coordinator and Recruitment Manager at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa (BBBSCI), has been matched with his little, Landon, in the community-based program since April of 2011.  Landon, now 8 years old, is the middle of two siblings who are also in the program. The children currently live with their grandmother, and have not been able to spend much time with their parents. Landon lacked a stable male role model in his life, and BBBSCI provided him one through Doug.

Doug usually sees Landon every other week. The program requires meeting twice a month for two hours at a time, but they usually spend 3-4 hours together.  They like to do physical activities, like ice skating or camping.  They’ve gone to Hawkeye football games, Sky Zone, Animal Rescue League, Climb Iowa, and Clear Lake.  Having Doug as a big brother has given Landon experiences and opportunities he would never have had otherwise.

One thing Doug has been working on with Landon is his ability to communicate with people- saying “thank you”, “please”, and ordering for himself.  When they were first matched and went to community events, Landon would hide behind Doug, but with Doug’s insistence Landon would introduce himself and discuss his interests. Now, Landon is significantly more outgoing and can easily approach people.

 Doug explains, “Everyone’s role in Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa is different.  Every kid has different needs.  Some kids have more mental health and behavior needs, other kids just need a male role model.” At any time, there are nearly 100 kids waiting to be matched, and they may have to wait up to eight months.  There’s a constant need for volunteers, especially big brothers. Sign up to become a mentor today, and make a life-changing impact through a relationship like Doug and Landon’s.

Story written by Melanie Kappes, Freshman at Drake University. Thank you Melanie!

BBBSCI Matches Score a Touchdown Opportunity with Allied Insurance

November 15, 2013

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa wants to thank Allied Insurance for sponsoring the Kick Off Kid/Kirk’s Kids programs this year for our Bigs and Littles. These programs allow matches to attend a home Iowa State or Iowa football game. Matches who would like to attend a game are drawn at random. We really appreciate Allied Insurance’s generosity to offer these awesome opportunities to our matches.

Matches who participated in Kirk’s Kids with the Iowa Hawkeyes received:

  • Two game tickets, two Hawkeye Express train tickets, $25 gift card for the apparel shop at Kinnick Stadium for the Little and one Kirk Ferentz autographed football for the Little
  • A pre-game tour of Kinnick Stadium, be video-taped and shown on the Main Video Board during the game as guests of Kirk’s Kids
  • Announced by Gary Dolphin on the Hawkeye Radio Network as guests of Kirk’s Kids

Matches who participated in Iowa State’s Kick Off  Kid program received:

  • Two game tickets, one parking pass, one jersey/t-shirt for the Little and on-field recognition with game ball delivery to the referee
  • The Little received an autographed photo commemorating the experience

Check out some photos from matches’ experiences at games this past fall!

Here is the sign Big Alicia made to surprise her Little Lainie when she got selected for Kirk's Kids!

Here is the sign that Big Alicia made to surprise her Little Lainie when she got selected for Kirk’s Kids.

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Little Lainie & Big Alicia in the press box at Kinnick Stadium. They watched Iowa take on the Missouri State Bears.

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Little Taniah & Big Kathy attended the Iowa State vs Iowa game at Jack Trice Stadium as part of the Kick Off Kid program.

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Little Taniah with Cy & the Corn mascot.

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Little Daniel & Big Jesse at the Iowa Hawkeye vs Northern Illinois Huskies game.

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Big Jesse & Little Daniel shown on the main video screen at Kinnick Stadium as guests of Kirk’s Kids.

Below, Big Jesse describes he and his Little Daniel’s experience at an Iowa game:

Daniel and I have been matched for eight years. We’ve been fortunate enough to participate in tons of community events offered by BBBS of Central IA, but our favorite is being selected as the Kick Off Kid for IA and ISU games. This year Daniel was selected to represent Polk County as Kirk’s Kick Off Kid at the first Hawkeye game of the season against Northern Illinois. Daniel and I are both Hawkeye fans and he had never been to Kinnick Stadium so I was excited to accompany him as his Big so he could experience the game day atmosphere. The Hawkeye staff rolled out the red carpet and provided us with a parking pass, tickets to ride on the Hawkeye Express train to the stadium, an autographed football signed by Kirk Ferentz, a tour of the press box, money to spend at the Hawk Shop and sweet tickets on the 35 yard line. We were fortunate enough to meet Chuck Long and the other Big 10 network staff along with Gary Dolphin and the Hawkeye announcers to see what transpires behind the scenes.

Prior to kick-off we were escorted onto the field and watched the players and coaches emerge from the tunnel for pre-game warm-ups. We got to stay down there for about 20 minutes before we were filmed for the segment shown on the video board during the game when they announce the Kirk’s Kids matches. The experience was unforgettable for both of us and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to spend that time with him. The temperatures were over 100 degrees on the field and the Hawkeyes squandered a halftime lead and lost their first game of the season, but our day together is one that I’ll never forget.

Thank you, Alicia, Jesse & Kathy, for sharing your game day experiences!

Halloween Fun for Bigs & Littles!

October 30, 2013

Earlier this week, our Match Activities Committee hosted a pumpkin carving/painting activity for Bigs & Littles. The matches had fun using their creativity to decorate pumpkins. Some used spooky templates to carve designs while others painted frightening faces!

Tips for Carving/Painting Pumpkins:

  • Make sure to have snacks on hand for extra energy. We recommend pumpkin bars, cupcakes or popcorn!
  • If you are outside, be sure to wear a coat- it’s chilly. Have an adult help children carve pumpkins- wear gloves for safety.
  • Think outside of the box- dress up your pumpkin with a hat, groovy sunglasses or a mustache.
  • Carve a design on your pumpkin & then embellish it with paint.
  • Just because it’s Halloween does not mean your design has to be scary! Set yourself into a fit of giggles with a goofy face.
  • Write a Halloween message, like “spooktacular” or “trick or treat.”


Online Halloween Resources:

Volunteer With Your Little!

October 9, 2013

In the midst of our #fallofgratitude social media campaign, we want to share ways you and your Little can volunteer together. We love this inspirational quote from Helen Keller: “The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves.” Here are some ideas:

1. Package Meals. In August, the Match Activities Committee planned an outing for Bigs and Littles to package meals at Meals from the Heartland‘s Annual Hunger Fight. This is an activity where children of all ages can volunteer. Children learn that the meals they package are delivered to families in Iowa and around the world- they are making a difference in other people’s lives! Registration to help at next Annual Hunger Fight will begin in July 2014.

2. Help a Neighbor. Offer to assist neighbor with yard work, like raking leaves, painting a fence, or even taking their dog for a walk.

3. Spend time with others. Visit a retirement or nursing home and spend time reading to others or assisting with a game of  bingo. Check out opportunities at Wesley Acres. Volunteer at a homeless shelter, like Central Iowa Shelter and Services or Youth & Shelter Services, Inc.

4.  Random Acts of Kindness: Dedicate an outing to surprising people with random acts of kindness, like putting extra change in parking meters, picking up trash in a park or making a coupon book with things like, “this coupon is good for one cooked dinner.” The Random of Acts of Kindness Foundation offers so many other great ideas, too!

Have you & Little volunteered in the community? We want to hear about it!  Email Sara at