After the School Bell

by Linda Leigh
Categories: Feature, Mobile
Share:

Ten-year-old Tasha is one of hundreds of Canadian children who live in unstable environments. She never knows what she will have to cope with next, and is often left to fend for herself. At The Salvation Army she can escape for a while and enjoy being a kid.

“The Salvation Army is making every effort to be a positive impact in the lives of children who are at risk of poor life outcomes,” says Kerry Brown, Children’s Outreach Worker at The Salvation Army’s Cedarbrae Community Church in the eastern part of Toronto.

Tasha’s mom has health issues that interfere with caring for Tasha. Mom often can’t get out of bed in the mornings, leaving Tasha with little adult supervision.

Kerry first met Tasha in 2012 at the Army’s Red Cap Program. “The program focuses on coping and problem solving,” says Kerry. “Tasha came to us needing help with expressing her feelings and resolving conflict.”

When Tasha completed the Red Cap program, she attended the Army’s homework club and after-school program. At the after-school program children from kindergarten to Grade 6 have the opportunity to participate in a variety of enriching activities. Kids create snacks like fruit kebabs and mini pizzas, make crafts to take home, and are active in games like dodgeball and floor hockey.

Today, Tasha is beginning to trust Salvation Army staff and volunteers. She is learning to open up to them about her feelings and is working on positive resolutions to her problems instead of shutting down.

“Our goal is to build trust so that in the future kids feel safe enough to unload some more serious stuff,” says Kerry. “The Army is a safe haven with unconditional love and support. And as we build relationships with the children in our community we have opportunity to meet needs of the whole family, helping them overcome a variety of stressors that weigh them down.”