Centre, Salvation Army launch new program for children

October 07, 2004|KATIE McBRIDE

Local children won't have to spend their afternoons zoning out to Nickelodeon anymore.

The Salvation Army did a community needs assessment survey that showed that the No. 1 community need was for alternative youth programming. In response to that, and the closing of the Housing Authority's previous program, Cassie Brownson, Hillary Eason and Ryan Reynolds, students at Centre College, joined with the Salvation Army to start KICS, Kids in Creative Surroundings.

This program is geared toward "kids who need a little extra push," explains Antwann Yocum with the Salvation Army.

The children begin the afternoon by working on their homework with volunteers nearby to help. A computer lab also is available for use. After a healthy snack, they participate in an enrichment activity. Some activities have been playing soccer with local soccer players and games that teach about recycling. This Friday, the children will be learning to bake banana bread. Eason says they hope to provide "an alternative for these kids other than watching TV."


Trina McFarland, Centre's director of service and leadership development, says Brownson, Eason and Reynolds "have done a terrific job." The trio have made lesson plans, set goals, recruited volunteers, and are working with the Salvation Army to monitor how the program is working and areas that need improvement. "I am so proud of them for taking on this activity," McFarland says.

One day last week McFarland was able to go visit the program and see how things were coming. As she was leaving, she looked around the room and saw several volunteers and youth working on homework, some playing games together and others dancing and singing with the Billy Bass on the wall.

"It sends the message from someone other than parents that you're important and I want to spend the afternoon with you. Kids really need that."

Trial and error stage

The program, only in its third week, is still in the "trial and error stage," notes Yocum. Currently they're working with the school system to provide transportation to increase attendance. They've drawn 10 young students so far, without any advertisements other than Yocum's "house-to-house" invitations. With better transportation they hope to reach their capacity of 20-25 students.

So far the students seem to enjoy the program. Eason shares a story about a third-grader whose Band-Aid fell off from a previous injury. While cleaning up the wound, he asked what the white on the scrape was. To find out, they asked Reynolds, and he explained that it was his white blood cells which were working to heal the wound. Later that afternoon they heard him showing off his white blood cells to a friend.

"It was affirming that he listened and thought it was neat," said Eason.

Brownson, Eason and Reynolds are Bonner Leaders at Centre. This program, run by McFarland, pairs the students with organizations in the community where they volunteer 5-10 hours a week instead of doing a work study.

KICS is open to students in elementary and middle school. The program runs 3:30-5:30 Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the Bate-Wood Community Center.

The program is in need of financial help and supplies. Donations of kitchen supplies, toys, sports equipment, books, games, etc. are welcome. Volunteers also are welcome. For more information call Antwann Yocum at the Salvation Army at (859) 236-4473.

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