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The Big Brothers Big Sisters program in Baltimore has seen a huge spike in prospective mentors, bringing some positivity to the city since the death of Freddie Gray.

The program’s Baltimore chapter has seen a 3,000 percent hike following protests in the city, NBC News reports. President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake, Terry Hickey, called the increase “unprecedented” with 500 applications being taken a day, as opposed to the 3 to 5 they’ve received in the past.

“I was worried people would see the images on TV of young people looting… you don’t know how people are going to react to the image of young teens running through the streets,” Hickey said. “But people are having their own epiphany, they are saying, ‘It just dawned on me that by being an adult in one kid’s life I can make a real difference.’”

Hickey added that hundreds of kids that were on the wait list will finally have a big brother or sister to share their experiences with. The rise in applicants can be attributed to the large number of teens who were seen in the Baltimore riots last Monday after Freddie Gray’s funeral. Hickey says the portrayal of the city’s teenagers isn’t accurate, but it doesn’t take away from the need for mentors in the city.

“I’m hoping this means people aren’t about blaming kids for what’s happened, but are recognizing that mentoring needs to be right up there at the top of the list when you talk about building communities,” he said.

When it comes to effectiveness of a “big,” participants were 46 percent less likely to partake in illegal drug use, 27 percent less likely to use alcohol, and 52 percent less likely to cut school than children who aren’t in the program.

Celebrities have also stepped up as ambassadors, including Jamie Foxx, Eve, and Hill Harper.



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A Little Positivity: Interest In Baltimore Big Brothers Program Soars To 3,000 Percent  was originally published on