HISTORY OF SIDEKICKS
The Sidekicks program was originally run by a group of volunteers that began the program with the goal of putting more priority on local, St. Albert children. They found that the volunteers of similar organizations such as Big Brothers, Big Sisters were sometimes too far away and did not want to commute to volunteer with St. Albert children. The need for a program like Sidekicks in St. Albert became increasingly apparent in the 1983 census, when it was reported that there were 369 single-parent families and within those families were 638 children. After the volunteers began the program, they found that the rapidly increasing work load and demand for financial assistance became too overwhelming and the program needed permanent placement and staffing.
On March 5, 1987 the Volunteer Resource Centre (VRC) absorbed the Sidekicks Society, which was previously called “The Sidekicks of St. Albert Child Friendship Society.” In 2000, Sidekicks got its first large sponsor! It was adopted by Pi Kappa Alpha (PKA) fraternity at the University of Alberta as their main charity. Many of their members became mentors, while others helped in recruitment and fundraising. The program would soon have many other sponsors such as Tim Horton’s, Katimivik, Volunteer Canada, Spruce Up St. Albert, Desa Studios, Kids up Front, 2005 World Master Games to name only a few.
In 2001, the program was renamed “Sidekicks Mentoring” and the role of the “mentor” would become the central focus of the program. Before this, the program was based on friendship and companionship. While this didn’t completely change, the main focus now included an emphasis on teaching and role-modeling. Sidekicks continued to grow in both the amount of families it served and the volunteers it obtained. Eventually, the program called for additional staff members, including a summer staff member, a part-time staff member and a full-time staff member.
Today, the program has helped hundreds of families with the assistance of many volunteers. The program has come a long way since the days of being a small organization of volunteers. The increasing amount of involvement by the St. Albert community has made Sidekicks Mentoring an asset to the people it helps and to the St. Albert community as a whole.