After School Programs: What Do At-Risk Kids Need?

At-risk kids, actually all kids, need adults in their lives who put the child’s needs/wants above their own.

Such adults are difficult to find  – read of the reason here

Tommy was a child who grew up in the worst of circumstances.

  • Abandoned by dad
  • Mother a prostitute
  • Continually on the move from motel to motel
  • Had to fend for self

Tommy was introduced by a friend to an after-school program in the general area of the motels where his mother would dump him. He soon discovered that this was a place where he could receive “love.”

Tommy was a bright, outgoing, full of life little boy – very easy to love.

Tommy was eight years old.

The staff so “loved” Tommy that they would do anything for him.

They lavished him with gifts. They were at his beck and call.

“He deserves this, he has so little –
look at how his mother treats him.
It makes me feel so good
to help him with these things.”


Tommy grew to believe that these material things would always be his. He grew to believe, through experience, that if he ever needed anything it would be given to him.

When in high school he had the opportunity to help out at a day care center where he earned a little spending money. One day the day care owner suggested that it would be awesome if Tommy could find a way to get to a new center they were opening on the other side of town. If he could he would earn more money.

“Oh that won’t be a problem,” Tommy responded

“But Tommy, the bus doesn’t even run out that far. How would you ever get there? The owner questioned.

“Oh someone will give me a car. All I have to do is ask,” came Tommy’s quick response.


Tommy had been given so many things over the years he thought they would just continue.

Today Tommy is living a life similar to the one modeled for him by his primary nurturers. Tommy is an adult today living on the streets. Who knows how many children he has fathered (we know of some), abandoning every one.

TOMMY WAS A CHILD OF POTENTIAL! Tommy’s potential was destroyed by the very adults who could have made a difference; they cared more about themselves than Tommy. They did what made themselves feel good.

Having witnessed many stories of this kind, the KidTrek staff discussed the minimum requirements of walking through life with at-risk kids.

  • How could we learn from the tragic mistakes made with Tommy?
  • How do we learn from the other mistakes we have seen caring adults make over and over as they serve at-risk kids?
  • How do we design a road map to help caring adults avoid these and other predictable mistakes?

The process helped create the term, Secondary-Nurturer (SN).

A Secondary-Nurturer comes alongside an at-risk kid to fill the holes left on the child’s heart by the Primary-Nurturer.

A Secondary-Nurturer is challenged to count the cost, addressing the personal drain of time, emotions, physical, social and spiritual. A Secondary-Nurturer must pray and fast; not a fast from food, a fast from the things he desires for himself as he unselfishly pours himself into the lives of kids.

“Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.” 1 Thessalonians 2:8


Secondary-Nurturers Commit To:


11 responses to “After School Programs: What Do At-Risk Kids Need?

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