Welshpool-based YMCA Big Brother Big Sister acting mentoring manager Brendon Lazaroo said the program had a waiting list of about 100 children, with 80 per cent of those boys.
The program matches children who are socially isolated or disadvantaged with older mentors of the same gender.
‘Most of the boys on the list are in their early teens, which is a pretty critical time because they are getting into high school and developing friendships,’ he said.
‘A lot of the boys do not have any male role models in their lives, because they come from single-parent families. Even fly in, fly out work is having a bit of an effect as well because their father is not around as often.’
Mr Lazaroo, who is also a big brother, said the program aimed to show young children who may be at risk that they have opportunities wider than their current experiences.
‘A lot of children are caught up in a vicious cycle of parents and grandparents who do the same thing,’ he said.
‘Having a volunteer or mentor who comes from a different mindset, socio-economic or educational background shows kids that it is not that hard to break the cycle.’
Now in its 10th year, the program recently won the Volunteering WA Community Volunteer of the Year Award.
Mr Lazaroo said he encouraged more volunteers to get involved this year, particularly men.
– Visit www.perth.ymca.org.au.