Posts in Children's Program
Movers and Shakers, Quite Literally
 
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As we started November, we had a chance to partner with a young lady who is very passionate about dance. Dancing requires a lot of movement and stretching, and StepUp Children seem to really enjoy learning the different kinds of movements she shares with us. Our goal for StepUp’s Children’s Program is to expose them to as many new activities as possible, so stay tuned for some more interesting and fun new things happening with our young movers and shakers! 

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Growth and Volunteering in the Nursery
 

StepUp Ministry’s youngest participants have had a lot of excitement in the past few months!  Without our volunteers, we would not be able to create a special environment for them to learn and grow. The children love seeing familiar faces each week, and two of those familiar faces are Jacob Swanger and Diann Kearney. Read their stories below…

Jacob Swanger: 

“I can honestly say volunteering in the nursery at StepUp is one of the most rewarding things I do with my time. I was aimlessly looking at different volunteer opportunities for a while before I found my perfect match at StepUp. The staff, participants, and their kids are all amazing. Being a part of peoples’ lives while they go through such profound change and growth is incredible. 

You should join the nursery volunteers if (1) you have a passion for positively impacting people’s lives, or (2) you like fostering a fun, nurturing, educational, and lighthearted environment for little ones. An added bonus is you will never leave that place without a smile. I could be having the hardest day at work but it goes away with the kids’ laughter and fun. 

I have been volunteering for about a year now, and my favorite memory is playing hide and go seek in the nursery. All the kids hid in the same place including one little girl that didn’t usually play with the others. When I turned the corner and surprised them they all went crazy with laughter… made my week!”

 

Diann Kearney: 

“After retiring from a 30-year career in public education, I was looking for ways to continue to support our community, and StepUp Ministry has allowed me to do so as a volunteer in the nursery. I have been inspired by the StepUp participants and their level of enthusiasm for the program. It has been a joy to spend Tuesday evenings with their children while they seek to gain life skills and ultimately, stable careers. Through focused programming and the use of highly skilled staff and eager volunteers, StepUp Ministry is making a real difference in the lives of these participants and our community.”

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Stage Talent? We've got it.
 

...well, our StepUp kids do at least.

After an exciting summer of fun for our StepUp children, they are getting back into the swing of the school year with acting classes taught by NC Theatre Conservatory. The Children’s and Real World programs invited NC Theatre Conservatory to come and work with our children on acting skills.

We have so many talented young people in our program, so it was not hard for any of our children to come out of their box! We are so excited to have NC Theatre Conservatory come and teach our children and we cannot wait to see what else they have in store for us this month!  

 
 
 
 

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Giving Back to Those Who Give to Us
 
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This past Thursday, we had another great field trip with our children’s team! We had almost twenty kids currently in the program and from Alumni join us for an all-day outing to Durham. We started our day by visiting the Diaper Bank of North Carolina. There, we got to see how the diapers that are donated to our families are packaged, sorted, and delivered. We even got to join in and help out with packaging boxes and boxes of diapers. It was all hands on deck, and everyone joined in with a little competition to see who could get through their stack the fastest! We can’t thank the Diaper Bank enough for showing us how the warehouse works, and for letting our kids jump in and help. We appreciate all that you do for us, and are so thankful for the support you give our families through diapers and wipes.

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We refueled our energy with lunch, and headed for our afternoon at Hope Reins. Hope Reins is a wonderful equine facility that serves children and families in Wake County and surrounding areas that need support and comfort during difficult times. They have partnered with StepUp for over 5 years now to host us for an afternoon of fun each summer. The kids got to learn about the horses, go fishing, play games, and enjoy snow cones. Thank you, Hope Reins, for having us. We had a lot of happy but tired kids at the end of the day!

 

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Join us for Life Skills Graduation!
 
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Join in the celebration on Thursday, June 14, as a new class of Life Skills become StepUp Alumni. They have worked long and hard to get where they are, and we think they deserve to be celebrated.

The ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. on June 14 at White Memorial Presbyterian Church. We hope to see you there!

 

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Kids Learn Culture
 
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This month the kids at StepUp had the opportunity to participate in cultural day, which is an event that we have once a year giving our children a chance to learn about a culture that they may not be familiar with. Our guest speaker this year was Farah Campbell; she came and shared her Haitian heritage with the kids. Both of Farah’s parents were born and raised in Haiti and later moved to the United States to raise their family.

The Kids had the chance to see the Haitian flag and see where Haiti is located on the map. They learned about traditions and some of the many festivals that are held in Haiti. Farah taught them a few useful phrases in Haitian Creole such as “Sa ki pase” which means, “ What’s up?” and “Bonswa” which means “good evening”. The kids also got to move around a bit and learned a traditional Haitian dance while listening to some music. They had the opportunity to try fried plantains which are very popular Haitian dish. It was a night filled with learning and exposure, and the kids had a great time!

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Protect and Serve StepUp's Kids
 
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This month in the Children’s program we had one of our Police Officers come and talk about what she really does on her job. We thought that having her come and talk to our children would be a great way for them to ask questions and share some of their stories with her. Some of our children even shared that they want to one day become an officer. Officer Delva did a great job with showing our children the different roles that many officers have. She even talked about the Officer who pulls us over for speeding!

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Volunteer? Care giver? Rock star.
 

Bonnie Whitehead, has been a volunteer with the Sunday school at her own church, and jumped at the opportunity to help another group in the nursery setting. She was first introduced to StepUp back in June of 2011, and is now going into her third year of volunteering with us. 

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Bonnie loves to get the chance to work with a child one on one, since that really gives you a glimpse into their own world. She loves to learn their interests, likes, and dislikes, so she can better adapt to their needs. 

When asked what her favorite memory was so far as a volunteer, Bonnie told me, "My time at Step Up has provided far too many touching memories to select a favorite but the common theme among them: the children's pride. Words cannot really convey the look on a shy, unassuming eleven-year-old child's face when he explained how he was going to be an "entomologist" when he grew up. Or the expression on the very timid four-year-old as she showed me she had learned her colors just this past Wednesday! Also I can never forget incredible little Rakwan, a special needs child whom I met on my very first day. His smile lit up the room and it's just one of the many moments I will always cherish. So you can see that on a regular basis I leave Christ Church with my heart filled with joy and hope for these amazing, deserving children. It is certainly a rich reward in and of itself and I'm so grateful to Step Up for providing this opportunity to serve.”

We thank Bonnie, and all of our wonderful volunteers for helping to enrich the lives of our participants, both young and old. We could not do it without you! 

 

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Tuesday Night Talent
 

On Tuesday night in the children’s program we spend a portion of the night doing homework or something academic. This generally looks like kids sitting around the tables with the help of our wonderful volunteers working hard on homework, reading books, or challenging themselves with flash cards or trivia.

One of our phase one participants challenged the norm this week by letting us know that the only homework he had for the night was to practice his clarinet. Shawn is new to StepUp and had already started to make a good impression with our staff and volunteers. He is a 6th grader who has a love for music as well as talent. One of our volunteers went and sat outside in the Courtyard so that Shawn had the opportunity to work on his homework during this time as well.

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Learning in Little Steps
 

Our children in Little Steps are constantly learning and growing. This month, they worked on name recognition using ice cream. The children really enjoyed adding the scoops to the ice cream cone and then counting how many scoops they had according to the letters in their name. The kids had so much fun, while also gaining important skills they will need.

 

 

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Partnered with POE
 

StepUp Ministry partners with several different organizations and we have the honor to have them work with our children. This month we started our unit on personal health and nutrition. POE Center has been coming for several weeks teaching our children about nutrition and how to live and maintain a healthy life. Our children are not only learning how to eat healthy, but they are also learning how to exercise and stay active. Our children are very active and they love when POE Center prepares different games and exercises for them! 

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Student Spotlight
 
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Amonte’ comes to StepUp on Wednesday night at Christ Church. Amonte’ is four years old and he is full of energy.  He enjoys playing ball with the volunteers and he gives the best hugs!

One week our lesson was on feelings, so we discussed the different ways we feel. Amonte’ gave us a list of things that made him happy and named a few things that sometimes make him sad. He expressed that playing football makes him very happy. We are ecstatic to have Amonte’ in our Children’s Program.

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Blacks in Wax
 

Our children got a special treat last Saturday, getting to tour the 2017 Annual Blacks in Wax Live Museum. The Museum, presented annually by the African American Cultural Center, in collaboration with AYA Ambassadors, allows moments from African American history to come to life. The kids loved seeing and hearing the stories of figures like Malcom X, Emmitt Till, Rosa Parks, and others. The proceeds from the event this year were given to support the work we are doing at StepUp Ministry.

After attending the live Museum the kids had the chance to get a glimpse of college life by wandering around NC State's beautiful campus and having lunch in Fountain Dining Hall. Overall a good day was had by all and we look forward to having more events in the near future. 

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New Kids on the Block
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As of January 4th, StepUp has restarted the children’s Program at Christ Church, and with a couple of weeks under our belt we are off to a great start. We have a really great group of kids who seem to be enjoying the program so far. We are looking forward to watching them develop and learn over the course of the next year with us!

One of the activities that the elementary group has done so far is a lesson on responsibility, after a short conversation on what responsibility is and who they knew that displayed this characteristic, the children got to create a monster and explain what needed to be done to care for the monster. They all came up with different task that would help their monster survive

We asked one family their opinion on the program so far and the mother said they are having a great time and getting a lot from it already! She also mentioned that her kids beg her to bring them every week. It’s feedback like this that makes it all worth while!

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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

StepUp Life Skills, Alumni, and Employment Week participants, along with staff and 30 volunteers, came together for our annual Christmas party. After sharing a delicious holiday meal, we played a game of Family Feud, heard festive tunes, and took plenty of pictures in the photo booth. Santa stopped by to hear the Christmas wishes of our children, and we got to enjoy some Christmas songs by the Fountain Singers from the Fountain of Raleigh and the Junior League of Raleigh Choir. Thanks to everyone who gave of their time and talents to make this event a success!

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Helping Haiti

Step up Ministry had the opportunity to partner with White Memorial for the Haiti project. The Haiti project allowed us to help provide for 500 kids who live in Haiti. On Tuesday Night there were items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, bars of soap, hand towels and wash cloths, combs, nail clippers, band aids and small toys.

The children in our program were able to fill one zip lock bag with each of these items. It is important for our children to understand what it means to give back to the less fortunate. It also gave our children the opportunity to learn more about Haiti and to ask questions. They were very excited and grateful to help make 100 zip lock bags of healthy items for the kids in Haiti! 

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Church on Morgan Hosts Harvest Fest

Church On Morgan’s missional community group chose StepUp as a place they want to invest their time. This group volunteered to do our Harvest Fest back in October for our children’s program, and it turned out amazing. The group made green slime, painted pumpkins, read Halloween books, and decorated cookies with the kids. We really appreciate them for doing such a great job with this event, and we know the children had a blast.

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Parenting, Pizza, and Plenty of Fun

Friday, October 14th the StepUp Children’s team hosted a Triple P parenting discussion group followed by a parents’ night out. Triple P covers issues from toddler tantrums to a teenager’s defiance, from bedtime drama to outright disobedience. After attending the discussion group and getting some helpful tips on positive parenting skills the parents were able to leave and go enjoy a kid free evening.

We had a great turn out of NCSU student volunteers come to interact with the StepUp kids. We played games, watched movies, and ate tons of pizza. It was great to see so many college students eager to come and help, especially on a Friday night, which also happened to be the Opening Day for the NC State fair!

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