Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Food feeds rich friendship

Big Brother 'has helped me in almost every way': youth

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Zac Bowley likes a medium-cooked steak.

When the 17-year-old Winnipegger isn't playing the League of Legends video game or setting up smashes on the volleyball court, he can be found eating with his Big Brother.

"We have this mutual agreement that we like to go out and eat food," said the Winnipeg youth. "We eat everything."

When he was 10, Bowley met his Big Brother, Garth Campbell.

The dinner was followed by a Bombers game.

"I knew we were going to be friends for a while," said Bowley. "He's helped me in almost every way."

Bowley and Campbell are part of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Winnipeg, a youth-mentoring charity that facilitates relationships within the community. Its goal is to empower youth from ages 6 to 18 to reach their full potential.

"We create life-changing relationships that foster into our children, and we create better communities," said Kayla Chafe, co-ordinator of volunteer engagement at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Winnipeg. "We wouldn't exist without the United Way.

"They help fund all our mentoring programs."

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Winnipeg serves more than 600 youth, with more than 100 still on the waiting list.

"The goal is to show up for friendship. They need someone to talk to them and to believe in them," said Chafe. "They need that sense of guidance."

This year, Bowley is graduating from Grade 12 and will attend the University of Manitoba next fall. Like Campbell, he wants to be a doctor.

"I know what a doctor does, but I ask questions about biology and Garth spits out answers like a machine," he said. "When you're a doctor, people depend on you."

Together, the "brothers" have also worked on their golf game, cooked Christmas meals and learned to scuba-dive.

"He gives me a different outlook on life," said the high school student. "He has exposed me to a bunch of different things to help me get to know the world."

Campbell, who has three children, felt the program was a way to give back to the community.

"I'm very fortunate with my match," said the 54-year-old. "It feels good. I feel like I'm contributing to society. Zac's a good kid."

Despite their busy schedules, Bowley and Campbell plan to continue their friendship as long as it involves deep discussion and a plate of food.

elizabeth.fraser@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 12, 2013 B3

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