Church Based After School: At-Risk Kids Need . . .

Some of the things that at-risk kids need today to become who we want them to be at 40


  • The truth of Jesus Christ taught at a level the child can understand and receive.
    • An adult willing to be vulnerable and honest in sharing Christ. No false promises.
    • The challenge to know God and know His power.
    • Insight into how biblical truth can be applied in all areas of life.
    • Kids need to know and understand Romans 8:28 — Jesus has a purpose for every-thing that happens.  Our challenge is to not waste the pain.
    • An adult committed to pray without ceasing that the child will be a seeker of truth, will have a gift of discernment along with the desire and strength to obey the truth.
  • Learn the power of prayer.
    • An adult who models and challenges praying without ceasing.
      • E.G. As a 12 year old, Jamal couldn’t read.  His SN asked Kim if she would pray for Jamal each day.  In return, the SN asked Jamal to pray for Kim. His response, “I’ve never done anything like that, but I’ll try.”  The following week his school teacher moved him into a remedial phonics program.  In two weeks he was reading everything.  (There was a follow-up discussion with Jamal that God doesn’t always answer in this way.)
      • Jamal also learned it isn’t just about him.  Kim, a suburban mother had pain for which she also needed prayer.
  • Learns how to function as a member of the body of Christ.
    • If they are to continue to walk with Jesus Christ into adulthood the Church must be essential in their lives. Most kids who are not connected to the Body of Christ tend to walk away from Christ in their twenties.


  • An adult who will not settle for a second class education for the child — will never give up in seeking the best.
  • Examples of not accepting second best.
    • One child was not able to learn at school due to learning disabilities.  The SN  began to home school her.  It has made a huge difference in the life of this preteen.
    • A child was continually failing at school, the parents weren’t able to get help from the school. The Secondary Nurturer began volunteering in the classroom and built a relationship with the teacher. Then together they went to the principal and the district psychologist and other specialists. Finally they got the long desired meeting with everyone together and the child got the help he needed.
    • A Secondary Nurturer had set up for a mom to meet with the committee who would decide what special aides would be provided for her son. On the way to the school (after leaving his second job) the Secondary Nurturer got a call from the principal telling him not to come because mom hadn’t shown up. The Secondary Nurturer went to the home and mom wasn’t there. He was walking to the car when she showed up, “Where have you been?” “Oh, I was shopping and we can do this another day,” she replied. Controlling his voice he calmly but forcefully said, “No, this is too important to delay. Your son’s life depends on this meeting. Get in the car we are going to the school.” At the school the principal said he didn’t know when he could get everyone back together. The Secondary Nurturer said that was fine they would sit in the office until everyone could meet. They sat there for several hours — but the meeting was successful.
  • Develop a respect for education.
  • Development of critical thinking skills.
  • An adult who provides opportunities through conversation and real life experiences where the child is challenged to think critically.
    • Tyrone was looking forward to purchasing the Lego Prehistoric Creatures today.  He had been saving his “money” for months. As he approached the store, the center director asked him, “Tyrone, have you bought your ticket for our trip to the snow next weekend?”  “No” came the reply.  “Do you want to go to the snow?” the director asked.  “Yes” Tyrone smiled.  “You better buy your ticket today or you won’t be able to go,” the director suggested.  “But I wanted to buy the Legos I’ve been saving for, and if I get my ticket I won’t have enough money for the Legos.  Will you loan me some money?”  The director laughed and told him the KidTrek Bank didn’t make loans.  The director helped Tyrone go through the process of critically thinking how the outcome would differ if he didn’t buy his ticket that day.  Yes, he would have to wait for the Legos, but they would still be there when he had earned more money; if he put off buying his ticket, he would miss the snow trip, and there wouldn’t be another one this year.


  • Opportunities to deal with feelings in a responsible manner.
  • Learns that feelings can be deceptive.
    • Learns how to handle feelings.
    • Learns importance of taking feelings to Source of all Truth.
  • The opportunity to deal with delayed gratification.
  • Guidance in healthy manner of receiving criticism/correction


  • A faithful adult willing to walk through stages of Trust, Autonomy, Initiative, Industry, and Identity.
  • Instruction in basic life skills – eating in a restaurant, making a bed, washing clothes, how to use a bathroom, etc.
  • Anger Management tools.
  • Instruction in all aspects of handling money.
  • The opportunity to have meaningful conversation around a meal several times a week.
  • Development of a work ethic.
    • Learns not to expect to receive without working for something.
    • Learns chores and responsibilities are a normal part of life.


  • Child needs an adult who will be an advocate for and aware of the physical needs of the child.
  • Child needs to be taught hygiene.
  • Child needs to have the opportunity to develop a taste for healthy food.
  • This means if it is not provided in his home an adult needs to be in his life who will provide those opportunities.
  • Exercise a regular part of his life.


  • The opportunity to make and act on responsible choices.
  • An adult who will be there to assist in building a vision for the future.
    • Children of poverty often aren’t given a vision of the future because mom and dad are just trying to survive one day at a time.
  • Understanding that life does not appear fair today (Psalm 73) because we do not know how God is at work.
    • We cannot compare ourselves with others; we must walk the path God has called us to walk – Galatians 6: 4 & 5.
  • Hope 
    • Due to all of the above happening in his life.

2 responses to “Church Based After School: At-Risk Kids Need . . .

  1. What is an SN? (story about Jamal) Please don’t assume that your readers know what initials stand for.

    I love your blog and am learning a lot that I can apply to my ministry with children here in Stratford, ON

  2. Helen,

    Sorry, I tried to catch those – thanks for asking. SN = Secondary Nurturer.
    Secondary Nurturer is a term we use in-house for the adults who are committed to walk through life with a certain group of kids – no more than five. We came up with that term because the term Mentor has been so minimalized. We wanted those serving the kids to understand the importance of what they were doing and the commitment it would take. They are Secondary because we want them to be aware that the child has a Primary Nurturer with whom they need to come alongside.

    Thank you for your words of encouragement about the Blog.

    By the way I have 4 grandchildren who live up by North Bay 🙂

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