Bethel Zion Ministries located on Main Street in Loris began a new program they call Empowerment Kids Café`. Samone Spain-Farewell and her mother, Pastor Phyllis Spain wanted to create a program that would give the children who need a place to go during the summer daytime hours. The mission is to educate and motivate the children and youth to achieve curriculum standards for their grade level; to help those in resource classes to be academically prepared to enter into a regular classroom setting. As a unit they are working collectively with the Horry County School curriculum specialists to prepare all children for college or those who will join the workforce upon completing high school. The goal is to show children that a life of crime is not the only choice they have, and that each individual child can accomplish their dreams.
The program consists of children ages three to 12 years old with a structured program of learning, playing, relaxing and enjoying their summer months spent with a group of children their own age. They begin their day with prayer and breakfast, exercise time with jumping jacks, squats, sit-ups with a partner and laps inside the building. Circle time is spent encouraging the children with a quote of the day and discussing what the quote is intended to mean. Tech-Time is a time the children are able to spend time on their cell phones to play games that help with hand eye coordination. They will spend time outdoors in the sunlight playing basketball or play structured games. There is a time set aside for stations which gives the children time to work on age appropriate reading and writing assignments.
The book mobile comes by every two weeks to allow the children to select a book to read. By the time all the morning activities are completed it is time for clean up and wash up for lunch where they are served a hot meal. Afterward they have a restroom break and then it is nap time for all the children. When they awaken they are refreshed with a snack which is a small hot meal provided by the staff. They can have chips and juice with their meal. At the end of the day the children gather together for reflection time. They talk about the good deeds they did during the day and if there is anything they are able to do to improve their behavior, reading skills, and play time by making suggestions how to better themselves for the next day. The children who have been caught doing a good deed can select what they want from the ‘candy box’.
This program gives the children learning skills, problem solving skills and the ability to make new friends. There are six volunteer staff members, Spain-Farewell, the program director, and Pastor Spain working with the children. The church has made donations to the program to help provide what is required each day; the volunteer staff members also bring the food needed for breakfast, lunch and snack time. They have also brought play items like balls and jump ropes and basketballs for the children to play with. They are seeking help in providing playground equipment for the children and have asked anyone who will donate balls, jump ropes and snack foods to the program would greatly be appreciated.
Spain-Farewell said, “We try to go on a field trip to give the children the opportunity to learn outside of our facility.” Their plans are to go to the movie theater to see a PG rated movie, Playcard, Rock & Jump. “I spoke with the Loris Fire Department to see if the children could tour the firehouse,” said Spain-Farewell. “They took them to the police department and they were able to sit in a police car and they showed them the military equipment.” She said the children enjoyed the field trip and look forward to many more.
The volunteer staff has been trained and continues to work with one another to help the children to feel empowered and strong. Spain-Farewell said that she has the gifted ability to be intuitive in a child’s need and the ability to understand there is an underlying problem when a child acts out. She uses the ‘pinky-promise’ that whatever the children confide in her she will not reveal to others. However, she does need to follow the law when specific threats are made, and that is to benefit the child and keep them safe. That is not something she has had to deal with. She knows all of the parents and the children well. She said she has worked with the Horry County School District as a substitute teacher and volunteers her time at the schools following much of the curriculum she has designed this program to serve the child.
The quotes of the day are given to provide the children with a tool in seeing things in a different light, to help them feel good about themselves and the future and to give them knowledge of positive things to come. One of the favorite quotes is “Change is inevitable, growth is an option” by John Maxwell.
Empowerment is the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights.
This is the first summer for this program which began June 10 and ends on August 2. Spain-Farewell said that she will probably extend the days, she said, “Because I feel they are my babies and I love them each and every one.” This program will continue as after school care when the Horry County Schools return in August. At this time they are working with the school bus office and district office to provide transportation to their facility.
They invite anyone who has something educational to share with the children to contact them at 843-254-8558 or visit their Facebook page www.facebook.com/Empowerment-Kids-Cafe-193122874108525/.