Purpose of God gives local kids healthy outlet for social interaction

Published 3:45 pm Wednesday, July 3, 2019


Washington Daily News

The Purpose of God Annex’s 19th-annual Summer Program is continuing its legacy of helping children learn social skills, mannerisms and respect.

With a new curriculum focusing more on science projects, home economics and drama classes, the 10-week program offers a variety of activities to keep kids engaged on the hot summer days.

“The purpose is to allow students to experience the freedom to be closer, to socialize, to feel free from boundary,” said Bishop Samuel Jones Jr. “This is necessary to give them the opportunity to act out without having to be told not to, like in schools.”

Running from June 11 to Aug. 16, the Summer Program works to improve social skills and cognitive skills through recreational activities that bring children and teenagers closer. Jones Jr. created the program because he noticed a drastic jump in suicides connected to a lack of youth interaction after the county pushed loitering teenagers away from public areas.

“It just bothered me that the children were taking their lives and didn’t understand why they couldn’t meet up together,” Jones Jr. said. “We ended up with about 10 suicides in two weeks in Beaufort County, all ages 19 to 25. So the Lord gave me this, and me and my wife’s idea was to bring them in to a facility, put some games and things and let them take their frustrations out and help them understand the value of life.”

The Annex holds a movie room and computer room that are open throughout the day, as well as a playroom that once looked similar to a classroom. Jones Jr. took the desks away two years ago to remove social barriers, and now it’s completely open for interaction. The program places an emphasis on outside play and has numerous trampolines, a pool and water slides, a playground and more to keep them active.

The program also includes several projects, including home economics, where kids learn how to wash dishes, cook and make their beds, and classes on social intervention and confronting bullying.

Teach a Teen, or TAT, is a structured activity within the Summer Program that teaches 14- to 17-year-olds about entering the workforce. Participators learn how to fill out applications, write resumes, interview and perform job duties at the Annex.

“Every two weeks we give them a stipend for working — mopping, sweeping, teamwork, when to sign a timesheet, when to take lunch break like a normal employee, basically preparing them for the workforce at an early age,” Jones Jr. said.

Each year, the Annex hosts two graduations to celebrate those who have grown out of the program at 16 years old. Along with a banquet, Jones Jr. invites congressmen and women, as well as the mayor and district attorneys of Washington to the graduation. Each graduate receives letters of congratulations from congress and state representatives, he said.

The Summer Program is only one of many at the Annex. There is an after-school program from 3 to 5:15 p.m. starting Aug. 26 and the Project New Hope Refuge Intervention for adults ages 16-55 starting Sept. 3.

According to information provided by Jones Jr., Project New Hope is a program on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m. to noon that helps adults learn vocational, social or academic tools to find jobs and a stable living situation.

“This is near to my heart,” Jones Jr. said. “We try to get to the kids first to do a preventive process, then to the adults to have an intervention process.”

For more information about current programs at the Annex, call 252-974-1484.