How can only one hour each week with a child make a difference?
School personnel consistently report that many children involved with Kids Hope USA exhibit significant change in academic performance, attitude, attendance and behavior, often in as few as two one-hour visits. How can this be? Brain stem research proves that children who live in unstable environments operate near the base of the brain. Governed by fight and flight impulses, these children are unable to learn. Any evidence of love and nurture moves the child up in the brains tem to those areas of the brain where he/she can experience belonging and learn.
According to a survey conducted by the Frost Research Center, 99.3% of the KHUSA children benefited from their relationship with a mentor. Children demonstrated change and growth in these four ways:
- ATTITUDE: The children have a more cooperative spirit, and they are motivated to participate. They believe that they can succeed.
- BEHAVIOR: The children exhibit less aggressive and violent behavior. They are less disruptive and are melded into class.
- ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE: The children improve in reading, math, spelling and test-taking skills because a caring adult believes in them and applauds their efforts.
- ATTENDANCE: The children do not want to miss school, especially on the day they will meet with their Kids Hope USA mentor.
Participation in Kids Hope USA is a ministry of our church. A strong relationship between Woodland and Larkspur Elementary has developed over the last six years. In the words of the Family Specialist at Larkspur, “Woodland Baptist is our Hero.” Many children who attend there live in the large number of apartments and Section 8 housing that surrounds the school. The population there is a migrant one with most children qualifying for free or reduced breakfast and lunch.
This ministry comes under the direction of the Missions and Ministries Committee. Kids Hope USA has designated funds allocated for the ministry within the mission budget. However, many of you have opened your pocket books to support needs as they arise. No monies are given directly to families. The school specialist (school social worker) knows the needs of the families. All goods are purchased and given out at the direction of the Family Specialist. At the beginning of the year funds were given for school uniforms, and in late October children were fitted with warm coats, caps, and gloves. LifeTimers took on the project of packing hygiene kits for the teachers to keep in their classroom for children who need to tidy up at school. During the Thanksgiving season dollars were given to purchase all the fixings for a turkey dinner for ten families. Over holiday times when school is not in session, snack packets of food were supplied for several children who would not have food to eat during that period of time. At Christmas the young adult group from church adopted a family and supplied them with household needs and personal gifts. In the spring monies were given to the school to help pay for field trip expenses for children who did not have the financial resources needed to attend the excursions.
Other than the incredible financial support, we have had dedicated mentors who have gone weekly to love, encourage, and tutor children in grades Kindergarten through fifth grade and have spent approximately 350 hours mentoring at Larkspur. Mentors see their child thrive during the school year as they grow in knowledge, independence, and self esteem. Just encouraging a child and telling them, “you can do it; I believe in you” often times makes the difference in the success the child will experience during the school year.
Participation in the national Kids Hope USA program has afforded our church with a mission field just a few miles from our church campus and has opened the eyes of many to the needs here in our community. Woodland has blessed Kids Hope USA and in turn we have been blessed through active participation.
Our request for the coming year would be continued financial support and more volunteers to mentor and give gifts of love and hugs directly to the children.
Marty Goppert, coordinator Kids Hope USA
If you’re interested in learning more about this program, please visit the Kids Hope USA website.
Contact Marty Goppert for training. The heart is happiest when it beats for others!