KidsGames helps Atlanta corps reach out
to their communities
Atlanta Temple, Hispanic and Lawrenceville Corps bring summer fun to
KidsGames, an international sports event used
to teach a values-based curriculum, is shaping the way The Salvation Army does
summer outreach. Throughout July and August, three Georgia corps held KidsGames
to promote community, faith and fun among local youth.
Atlanta Temple Corps (see photos below) hosted KidsGames July
17-21 from 6 to 9 p.m. Activities included Bible study, drama, life skills
videos and soccer skills taught by Liverpool Football Club's professional
players from Liverpool, England. Forbes Duff and Mark Bygroves were in Atlanta
for 17 days to help with the KidsGames events.
volunteers from the corps and the community helped kids ages 6 to 14 have fun
while they also had the opportunity to hear the gospel. Many unchurched
children came to the corps as part of the week-long event; prizes were awarded
to children who brought the most friends during the week.
Israel Roseno (see photo below, front row far
left) coordinated the event, and of the 115 kids who registered, he said
about half of them accepted Christ. "The first goal was to reach the
community. Once they were here, we preached the gospel in interesting
As a result of the kids' responses, parents expressed
an interest in coming to the corps for programs. So the staff at Atlanta Temple
has started an adult soccer league so that parents can come and experience a
fun, family-friendly, Christian atmosphere. He stressed the importance of
letting parents see that Christians are regular people, just like them.
His hope is beginning to pay off. Already, three fathers are
coming to the corps for Sunday services, and one wants to become a soldier.
Roseno said that the church as a whole needs to build trust with the community,
and then, "the rest is up to God. It's a whole process; we just want
to invest in them. We're here to present the gospel."
The Hispanic Corps (see photos below) took their
KidsGames to the park July 24-28 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. There, Captains
Kelly and Regina Durant divided an average of 120 participants each day into
six groups. Throughout the day, the six groups rotated to different stations
where they learned soccer skills, music and dance and arts and crafts. Kids
were provided lunch and transportation to and from the games each day, and
their parents were grateful.
picking up kids from Plaza Fiesta, a Hispanic mall," said Kelly Durant
(see photo below, back row far right). "We had told a lot of shop owners
that we'd take their kids." Even after the games have ended, parents
are still interested in corps programs for their kids.
One of the
highlights throughout the week, said Durant, was when teenagers who used to
attend corps programs started returning. "They were kids that came before,
for about a year, to play soccer. But they stopped coming and we lost touch
with them." However, when the older teens visited the young kids during
KidsGames, they taught the kids more than soccer skills. One teen had just
accepted a college scholarship through his soccer skills learned in part at the
corps. He encouraged the younger children to stay in school, work hard at
soccer and stay out of trouble. "The kids themselves stepped up as
leaders," said Durant.
Other creative strategies that
the corps used to teach the kids, ages 5 to 13, included letting them paint
their own t-shirts for free rather than paying money for pre-made shirts with
the KidsGames logo; picking up garbage from around the park; and listening to
the testimony of one of the Liverpool Football Club players, who encouraged the
youth to "play well" in both the game of soccer and the game of
On Saturday, Aug. 12, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the
Lawrenceville Corps (see photos below) hosted its first
KidsGames. Pairing the games with a back-to-school giveaway, the corps saw many
neighborhood parents attend the one-day event with their children.
A ticket redeemable for school supplies was given to the parents
of the first 300 registrants. Then, activities that followed included inside
and outside sports relays, Bible-based teachings, music and mime lessons.
Snacks and lunch were also provided.
"We found out
about KidsGames through Dave Willson," said Captain Bobby Westmoreland
(see photo below), corps officer at the Lawrenceville Corps. "People are
very sports-minded in Gwinnett County. We see its potential, and we want to
make it a huge event in the community. It's an outreach event."
The KidsGames curriculum was easy for the community-focused
Lawrenceville Corps to facilitate. Due to its flexibility, KidsGames is an
event that Willson, sports ministry director for the Southern Territory, hopes
that other corps in the territory will adopt in the future. For more
information, contact the Sports Ministry Department at 404-728-1300, ext.