Imagine a colorful place where children from any nation can enter and feel welcomed. A place where they can have fun while they learn the language of their new country and make friends with people who look different than they do. A place not only designed for the children, but also for their parents to have the opportunity to focus on their own personal growth. In May of this year, a place like the one I’ve described became a reality as GoTEN officially launched its brand-new kids’ program!
We’ve had 40 children, aged six months to eleven years old, walk through our doors over the past three months (not all at the same time – thank goodness)! Parents now have the opportunity to learn English or new sewing skills without cute distractions during their class times. Mothers can have an hour to themselves; and I see the relief and excitement on their faces as they drop their children off.
As the director of the program, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with the majority of the students and their families. I have heard so many stories from them and am grateful for the ability to share love and hope with our refugee families. One little boy, let’s call him Remy, comes twice a week to the program while his mother attends class. He has told me of times when he was afraid and remembered running through the airport in order to ‘get away from the bad guys’. He dreams of being a pilot so he can go back to his home country and rescue his family members and friends who are still there. Remy has the sweetest heart and is a rather bright child. He is also the main translator for his family even though he is only six years old. Side note- if you ever get the chance to have Remy or any other six-year-old translate for you, do it because it is one of the funniest experiences! The kids’ program is a place where children, like Remy, will be heard, valued and loved.
With summer coming to a close, our elementary aged students are returning to school, which will significantly reduce our age range. Since most of the children who will be attending the program are preschool aged, the main focus of our time will shift to preparing these kids for kindergarten. Some of the littles have a basic understanding of English and some just know a handful of words. Our hope is to get them ready and excited to enter school within a few years while also allowing them the opportunity to just have fun and play! We’re excited to see what’s in store for this program and hope this little blurb of information piques your interest and excitement, too! GoTEN is seeking volunteers to help with the program as it grows; join us today!