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SOMEONE TO LOOK UP TO: Ward Participates in Big Brothers/Big Sisters Program

by Jena Smith / Nashville Predators
Joel Ward gives back by mentoring less fortunate kids through the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program

As the youngest child in the Ward family, Joel always had an older sibling to look up to. He is now able to look back and realize the important and significant role his older brothers had in his childhood. Never having the opportunity to have someone in his own family look up to him in that magnitude, Ward has found a way to make it possible today. The Nashville Predators’ forward is putting both his fun loving, childlike side together with his guidance and leadership through Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Big Brothers Big Sisters is the oldest and largest youth mentoring organization in the United States. The organization reaches out to those youths in the community who may need extra help and guidance in order to achieve their highest potential. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee will sever over 2,800 children and teenagers in the great Middle Tennessee area in 2010 alone.

Last spring while attending the Nashville Predators’ Gala event Ward had the chance to speak with a few individuals involved with the Middle Tennessee chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“It was something I kind of always wanted to do but I guess just kind of needed a little push. When I met a few people at the gala last year that’s what really swayed me. I was in their office just a couple days later,” Ward said.

After going through the standard application and background check Ward was contacted by Amber Leach, Manager in the Match Support Division of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee. Leach was quickly able to find Ward a match in thirteen year old Malik.

“She found a match with Malik and everything has been pretty good since then.”

Ward loves to bring Malik down to the rink for practice or a game, go out for a movie, or even head over to the local YMCA to play basketball; however Ward will let anyone know his main focus is on Malik’s school work and grades.

“As of late we have been focusing on going over homework; we are working on getting his reading grade up a little bit. Overall though it is all about working on getting and keeping his school grades up and helping him move on to high school and eventually graduate.”

Malik is not shy about keeping Ward updated on his school work and behavior in the classroom either.

“He updates me every day whether he is having a good day of class or not. Usually I get a text or a call to let me know if he has had a good day,” Ward explains.

With summer and training camp over Ward is looking forward to being in town and finding more time to spend with his “little brother” this fall.

“Being out of town over the summer we kept in contact over the phone, and training camp was very busy so I look forward to being able to meet up more often now. He is a very smart individual. He just enjoys life and is a very interesting kid. I just really enjoy hanging out with him whenever I get a chance.”

Ward once again is able to see the importance big brothers and big sisters have in one’s life and that it doesn’t matter if it is by birth or by chance. Ward very honored and finds pride in having the chance to do as his older brothers did for him and give the guidance, support and compassion to his new brother.

“It has been a great experience for me. It is one I am just honored to take part in. I didn’t realize the kind of experience it would be when I first signed up for it. It has been amazing. “

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