Dispatches

Smart Kids, Strong Kids at Dayton Kroc

Focus on nutrition, education and relationships draws out young people's potential and draws in families.

A new equation in youth ministries is blossoming at the Dayton, OH Kroc Corps. The ministry called SK2=Smart Kids, Strong Kids, (SK–Squared for short) attracts a wide range of children, teens and young adults to the corps through programs at the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center.

Majors Thomas and Barbara Duperree conducted a strategy session with their soldiers, expressly addressing how the corps youth programs could be revamped into something relevant and current.

From that brainstorming, SK2 was born.

“There are wonderful, talented kids here,” says Corrine Duperree, one of several youth leaders of SK2. “Our After–School program is offered Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and has about 80 kids per session.”

The sessions end with a dinner, but if the parent needs more time after dinner, the kids are directed to traditional youth programs like Sunbeams, Girl Guards and Adventure Corps. The corps also provides non-traditional classes—karate, cooking, homework help, “J.A.M.” (Jesus and Me), loom knitting design, “LOL” (Love of Literacy) and team–building, just to name a few.

“These [classes] have given us a direct link into the corps. They have proven to be very successful for several of our Army programs and very well received by our Kroc family,” Corinne adds. 

Corinne Duperree presents five new Commissioner's Sunbeams to the corps family at the Dayton Kroc Corps through the SK2 program.

SK2 is built on three pillars: Education, Nutrition and Family.

Education involves training for parents and children alike. Topics and activities foster a culture of curiosity and interest in learning. Parents are prompted on topics so they can better assist their children in school. SK2 partners with parents by holding regular reviews of each child’s progress.

Nutrition recognizes the decline of health among our nation’s children. This pillar strengthens families by providing healthy, homemade meals each day, which improve the child’s overall health.

Family provides an environment for bringing parents and their children together at the close of each day. Parents receive updates on their child’s progress as well as educational materials and opportunities to attend classes themselves. Families involved in the program can also enjoy a meal around the table and together take part in physical and recreational activities that foster relational growth.

“Our Kroc center brings a whole new population of children and families to draw from for the corps,” says Major Barbara Duperree. “SK2 is a bridge between the Kroc Center and the corps.”

For instance, a “Star Search” contest revealed an abundance of talent. One girl, Ariel, sang one of Adele’s hit songs. Her performance brought the house down. Ariel became very involved in the corps program through Sunbeams and is now a Junior Soldier, and her dad has since become a Senior Soldier.

Corinne and the other leaders see a lot of brokenness in the lives of some of the youth attending SK2. 

“Many children are in single–parent families and SK2 leaders are something of a parent figure,” Major Barbara says.

This meaningful link is proving to be a beneficial equation for everyone involved.

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