Program gives life skills boost

Published 7:08 pm Tuesday, August 30, 2016

 St. John Church of Christ recently held its Empowering the Next Generation program, a program that sharpens life skills for local children.

Twenty-five students participated in the weeklong workshop and learned life and behavioral skills, thought processing and critical thinking and a little about industrial and systems engineering, according to the church’s pastor Russell Wilkins. The program was also sponsored by The Juvenile Crime Prevention Council and was open to students in grades 6-12.

Wilkins said the workshop was well-received by participants and successful.

One program, called BAM (Becoming a Man), hosted by Raymond Lassiter, a teaching assistant with Beaufort County Schools, targeted at-risk young men, exploring good and bad thought processes and pro-social behaviors.

As part of the program, the students also had the opportunity to visit Simply Natural Creamery of Ayden.

As part of the program, the students also had the opportunity to visit Simply Natural Creamery of Ayden.

Sgt. Walt Zerniak and Deputy D. Goddard, with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Department, were invited to do a presentation about how to handle oneself when stopped by a law enforcement officer, according to Wilkins.

“This program provides interpersonal skill-building sessions to delinquent and at-risk juveniles in Beaufort County,” Wilkins said. “Sessions included positive mentors and peer support that provide opportunities for increased citizenship. They learned what to expect if stopped by a police officer and the correct things to do so the end result for both won’t end up with anyone being hurt. They did a fantastic job with that and the students asked a variety of questions. (BCSO) should be commended on a job well done.”

Jordan Benston, a industrial engineering major and senior at North Carolina A&T, showed children how to fin solutions to problems in order to increase efficiency and using team skills to work toward an objective, according to Wilkins.

Wilkins hosted his own component about thinking and reasoning skills, logic and quick decision-making and problem solving.

With the state of the negativity in the community, state and nation, the church wanted to create a positive environment to teach children the “dos” and “don’ts” of society, he said.

In the past, St. John’s has hosted similar programs, but those were centered on education such as language arts, science, math and social studies.

“In thinking about students going back to school, we wanted to expose them to something different,” Wilkins said. “We wanted to bring them together in an environment to stimulate the brain in positive ways. Our youth need to be taught things like life skills in order to be positive now and productive citizens in the future. Positive-reinforcement types of settings allow the young folks to take a look at the now and what they see now as to what they want to be in the next 5, 10 and 15 years of their lives. We believe the sky is the limit for our youth, and we want to restore hope in our youth and show them the way to work within the established system so they will be successful.”

The students were provided transportation from volunteers Sheldon Morris and Marvin Corey, and meals from Rosa Wilkins and Ida Wimbush, according to Wilkins.

St. John Church of Christ is located at 2283 St. John Church Roa