WKBW - Buffalo - Bigs in Blue, a successful national Big Brothers and Big Sisters program that pairs Police Officers with elementary school students is coming to the Queen City.
The Buffalo Police Department will be teaming up with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Erie County for the program, and CEO Tom Guagliardo tells Seven Eyewitness News that while they're intentionally starting small, with five officers set to mentor five students, there was no shortage of people looking to get involved.
"It wasn't hard to find officers to volunteer, it wasn't hard to find a school who wanted the program, and it wasn't hard to find parents who wanted to enroll their children."
The first Bigs in Blue Program will take place at Hamlin Park Elementary, where Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown says he hopes the presence of the officers will give some children another positive role model in their life.
"The officers that will be participating have signed up as volunteers, they want to work with the young people... and for the young people that are able to participate in this, it will give them another caring adult in their life that they can spend time with, and that they can talk to."
Big Brothers Big Sisters says the program has given students across the country more self confidence and a new role model, but Guagliardo says the officers also take something away from the relationship.
"The officers in this program, they'll learn things too. Learn things about themselves, learn things about the community they've been serving in, and it's just a great opportunity for an exchange of information, as well as building relationships.
The fifth and sixth grade students involved in the program will eat lunch with their new big brother or sister at Hamlin Park Elementary every Wednesday. The program is expected to start as soon as the officers complete their training.