Children participating in the Kids With A Vision program learn an alphabet of character qualities, and so much more.
Kids With A Vision (KWAVS) is for children in pre-K through third grade. Their mission is “to create a safe place where kids will learn about God, explore Bible stories, positively develop character and integrity, learn to serve others and practice generosity, and have fun!”
Newport resident Keri Olson explained how KWAVS began.
“A group of five women met weekly during the school year to pray for our neighborhood school – the staff, the kids, and the campus,” Keri said. “We prayed for ways to reach the kids since they don’t learn about God in public school. I mentioned that when I taught in Santa Ana, my mom (Donna Phebus), her friend and I started a Good News Club after-school program for kids. It was a huge hit, and is still going strong. We met with my mom, and in the spring of 2011, KWAVS was launched in the Port Street neighborhood.”
Good News Club is a ministry where trained teachers present Bible lessons and fun activities to children in homes or certain schools after hours, with parents’ permission. Keri’s positive experiences with Good News Club prompted her to create something similar for her children and neighbors.
KWAVS was successful from the start.
“The past two years we averaged at least 20 kids from Kindergarten to third grade and we had about six junior counselors helping who were in fourth through sixth grade,” Keri said. “Our kids are all in this age group, and the material my mom teaches is best suited for primary school. My mom taught Kindergarten for 32 years, so she is extremely gifted with this age group. I love the bond created when older kids mentor the younger ones. My kids love seeing the “older” junior counselors at school and in the neighborhood.”
Ali Bray was thrilled to work with Keri and friends to start something meaningful that she and her young children could participate in with neighbors. It was also important to her that her children learn to reach out and help others.
“To have an opportunity to gather children in our community for fun, meaningful connection, learning about God, and service projects was a gift to me!” Ali said. “I want my kids to grow up understanding that a life well lived is a life less focused on themselves and more focused on others. Something galvanizing happens when you work towards something with eternal meaning.”
Neighbor Jody Danese was excited for her children to be involved as junior counselors for KWAVS. Daughter Gianna was in fourth grade and son Gian was in fifth when they began.
“They both really like interacting with younger kids,” Jody said. “I wanted them to learn to serve Christ and serve the community and they both loved it. It’s such a great experience as well as being a wonderful way to learn leadership skills. Gian realized he has a passion to serve and mentor younger children – he took it one step further and now volunteers in the children’s ministry at church.”
Jody was so impressed by the impact of KWAVS that in January she launched THE-WAV (Teens Help Everyone-With a Vision).
KWAVS is under the umbrella of Women of Vision, a ministry of World Vision, which is an international Christian humanitarian organization. Part of the KWAVS program is to partner with World Vision to educate the children about local and global poverty and injustice, to learn about issues affecting the poor and oppressed, and to support a World Vision project.
The next Kids With a Vision session is April 17- June 5, 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., in the Port Street Clubhouse, Phase 2. There is no cost, but children bring items to donate for service projects. Children over third grade are welcome to join as junior counselors.
For more information, go to http://kwavs.blogspot.com/2011/03/who-are-we.html
Cindy can be reached at [email protected]