This is an exciting time of year for so many people. A new school year means a new start with a new teacher, new classmates, and best of all, new school supplies. Do you remember the excitement of getting that fresh box of crayons (with a sharpener, if you were really lucky), a new backpack, new clothes, or a notebook in your favorite color? While back-to-school shopping may be a little stressful for parents, it’s definitely one of the highlights of the year for most boys and girls.
But while some kids may be feeling a little anxious about that new teacher or about which of last year’s friends will be in this year’s class, there are boys and girls who live each day with a level of stress we can only imagine. Will tonight involve waking up to yelling and screaming? What did I do to make Dad so angry with me? Why are we staying with Aunt Janice tonight? For the youngest victims of domestic violence, daily life involves constant fear and uncertainty, with moments of absolute terror. School? Well, that’s just one more source of stress as Mom struggles to find lunch money and Dad yells because last night’s homework is nowhere to be found.
That’s why our Children’s Program is so important. Not only do we ensure that boys and girls feel a sense of safety and security — often for the first time in their young lives — but we help them develop the skills and emotional resilience they’ll need to become healthy adults who are capable of choosing and sustaining positive relationships.
No two children or their needs are exactly alike, so we work with them in many different ways. Those who are at least age four are paired with a mentor to guide them through their stay. We make sure they stay healthy with our Operation Fit Kids class, which provides child-centered instruction in nutrition and exercise. This summer we worked to make summer vacation fun and memorable, with everything from Vacation Bible School to trips to Girl Scout and Horse Camps.
We’re particularly excited about plans to create a Lego Room as a place for both play and therapy. Why? You have to meet a 7-year-old we’ll call Michael. When he arrived with Mom, we asked what he enjoyed and the only thing he mentioned was video games. Michael was a quiet, reserved boy, and as we walked him through Sheltering Wings and showed him the many opportunities for fun, he insisted that he cared about nothing but video games.
We handed Michael our welcome bag, which includes a mini Lego set, and let him settle into the family’s new room. Minutes later, he came racing into our office, breathlessly exclaiming, “Look what I built!” He had assembled the Lego set. These days, his world revolves around Legos. He demonstrates his creativity with ever-more-complex projects and eagerly helps other children with their own Lego play. He has become talkative and has volunteered to help us set up our Lego Room. Mom is thrilled at how outgoing he’s become and told us there was “no way that my child would have had the opportunities he has had if not for the Shelter.”
Your generous, prayerful support is changing lives every day — and giving children like Michael and their mothers hope they never imagined possible. Thanks for everything you do for us!
In His service,