“My big sister Sydney taught me many things like how to swim and skate…but when she was teaching me these things she also taught me never to give up until I reach my highest limit.” 

Ella, 14, and her BIG Sydney have been matched since 2016, and in those four years Sydney has embraced her role as a positive adult in Ella’s life, empowering her to thrive. From teaching her different sport skills to consistently showing up at her dance recitals, Sydney has had a largely positive effect on Ella’s life over the last four years. 

“Sydney Inspired me to achieve more because whenever she is teaching me how to do something new and I don’t get the hang of something, Sydney would slow it down and teach it to me. She always tells me never to give up and to keep trying,” said Ella.  

Sydney also spoke of taking the time to ensure Ella was encouraged, “Ella and I have a ton of fun together but sometimes she can be hard on herself. Encouraging her to be proud of herself and her accomplishments has empowered her to turn any negatives into positives, which has really boosted her confidence and allowed her to reach her full potential.”  

By always encouraging Ella, the two have built a trust in their relationship which extends to Ella’s mother Donna, who’s grateful for everything Sydney brings to Ella’s life. 

“Sydney is the best big sister Ella could ever have,” said Donna. “Sydney has never missed a Dance Recital. Even when I forget to buy flowers for Ella, Sydney always shows up with a beautiful bouquet and Ella is always looking forward to seeing Sydney’s face in the crowd. Seeing them together I can tell they enjoy each other’s company. 

Health and fitness is a big part of Sydney’s lifestyle, which has allowed her to share many of her hobbies with Ella. Sydney taught Ella how to skate, and now she consistently goes to the arena to skate on weekends. According to Donna, she absolutely loves it.  

Through sharing her hobbies with Ella and always offering encouragement, Donna has seen some extremely positive changes, “This pairing has made an astronomical impact on Ella’s confidence and her self-esteem. Now Ella is willing to try whatever comes her way.” 

When asked about how important that constant encouragement and support was, Sydney said, “It’s incredibly important. Not only for young girls but for girls and women of all ages. The example I try to set for Ella is the same example that my role models set for me. And there is no doubt in my mind that Ella is going to be a positive role model to a young girl herself one day – what a lucky girl that will be! Positive role models shape us, guide us and inspire us to reach our greatest potential, and that, is pretty important!”  

Sydney recalls that working with Donna to empower Ella has been extremely beneficial in Ella’s development, “We have very open conversations about Ella’s routines and where there’s room to increase her healthy habits. Together, I think we’ve supported Ella’s development by encouraging a better balance of physical activity and healthy eating… and slightly less Netflix.” 

Donna sees and appreciates the investment that Sydney has put into Ella, which now extends beyond just the traditional Big Sister roll, “Sydney is not only a big sister to Ella she is a part of our family.”