Last year we embarked on a journey to impact the lives of children in our neighborhood. We realized that if things are to change in this community – if generational poverty, addiction, abuse, and neglect are to end – then the power of the Gospel must be lived out by a new generation. This is the reason that we started Brookside Community Play’s afterschool program.
Over the course of nine months, 40+ volunteers and staff invested in the lives of more than 50 children from the Brookside neighborhood. We walked with them as they played together, learned from each other, and were exposed to Gospel-centered character development. We did amazing things like build robots, race pinewood derby cars, become cheerleaders, and even receive coaching tips from a former professional basketball player. We had a lot of fun with each other, but something deeper began to happen as well.
Our large volunteer presence allowed us to build individual relationships with the children in our program. As each volunteer became a consistent presence in a child’s life, that child began to trust. They became vulnerable. They talked about real life. They talked about not having enough food at home. They talked about the abuse or neglect that they had been subjected to. They talked about the daily trauma that comes with living in poverty.
As this flood of emotion and vulnerability flowed out of the children, our volunteers gave them hope. Volunteers shared their own brokenness and fears. They encouraged and prodded our children to find hope in something greater than themselves. And they prayed. So many of volunteers prayed for the children each day.
When we talk about the Power of Play it is this: Through play, relationships are created. When relationships are created, hope can be given.
The work that we started last year is not finished. There is more to be done. There are more children who need that one caring relationship in their lives. On August 7th, we will launch our second year of After School Play.
Will you join us? Would you be willing to love on some amazing children in our neighborhood one day a week, for eight weeks? Come as you are. Whether you are a child expert or a novice, we need you. Whether you like basketball or art, we need you. Whether you’re old or young, we need you.
Registration for volunteers is now open. Let’s play!