The Battalion. (College Station, Tex.) 1893-current, October 15, 2003, Image 3

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The Battalion
Page 3 • Wednesday, October 15, 2003
M clean Sanborn stands in front of a group of children
with a megaphone in hand while jumping and waving
his free arm in the air.
“We do it like HA, we do it like HO but you don’t hear me
though,” Sanborn shouts as the children join him. “It’s the
birthday jam at Y.I. today, it’s all good and coming your way. So
we’re settin’ it off on this special day, we’re cornin’ up singin’
Happy Birthday.”
The song is just one of the ways Sanborn, a nuclear engineer
ing major, and other members of Youth Impact try to identify
with the kids they mentor. Youth Impact pairs Texas A&M stu
dents with at-risk kids between the ages of 5 and 18. The kids
are mostly black, underprivileged and considered “at-risk”
because of their home lives.
“This group of kids is what we call at-risk because most
don’t have a father figure,” said Mitchell Kleckley, a 2002 grad
uate of A&M. “I think it’s important that those of us who have
grown up with that to give that father figure back to them and
help the kids out in whatever way we can.”
* Kleckley participated in the program for three years before
graduating and moving back home to become a youth minister.
- Youth Impact, which many of the leaders and children also
refer to as “mission,” was started 25
years ago and is affiliated with
Grace Bible Church. It’s mis
sion is to bring the gospel to
the 250 urban youth in the
program so they can impact
the community, said Ryan
Poehl, director of Youth
Youth Impact began when a group of four college men start
ed playing basketball with kids in Southgate. They played
every Thursday, then more students joined in and Youth Impact
was born.
Each Thursday, Youth Impact leaders disperse throughout
neighborhoods in Bryan to pick up kids involved in the program.
They meet back at Williamson Park in Bryan where they play
for an hour and then have a lesson and small group time with
the kids.
After a group lesson, the girls scurry off to find their leaders
while the male leaders have to chase the boys down for group time.
“I like to call it controlled chaos,” said Jennifer Petersen, a
senior sociology major.
Petersen, along with Sanborn, is in charge of Big Littles, the
third- through fifth-grade age group within Youth Impact.
Tay Tay Horace, 10, said she has fun with her Youth Impact leader.
“She’s my friend and she’s very nice,” Tay Tay said. “She got
long hair and 1 like to braid it and stuff. These mission leaders
are off the chain.”
Catherine Sturgeon, a senior biomedical sciences major, has
been involved in the program for three years. She said she has
wanted to work with urban youth since seventh grade and
became involved in Youth Impact once she got to A&M.
She has been a mentor for several girls but has formed
a special relationship with two, Sherdrain Jones, 12, and
Oney Lee, 9.
• • • •
r a favorite
it and tie.
vear their
rovided by
expose them to things they don’t see day to day,” Sturgeon said.
“I also try to get into their lives and challenge them by teaching
them about the Lord and basically leading by example.”
Youth Impact encourages the children to memorize Bible
verses and be respectful to the people around them, Petersen
said. Every week, they give out the Bumblebee Award to the
participant who was especially attentive or respectful in the pre
vious week.
“The bumblebee concept is that a bumblebee has tiny wings
and technically, shouldn’t be able to fly, but it ends up carrying
itself,” Petersen said.
Like Sturgeon, Petersen has developed a close relationship
with one of her girls. In addition to seeing her in a group set
ting every week, Petersen has been picking up Kayron Davis on
Fridays for the past three years.
“The whole basis of the ministry is ... taking a child under
your wing and using teachable moments in their lives so they
can take what they’ve learned back to their neighborhoods,”
Petersen said
Petersen said she has not only formed a bond with
Kayron, but also with Kayron’s family, which
includes her mother Earline, twin brother Keyron
and younger brother Michael.
“The first year, her mom was a little intimi
dating because I would pick up Kayron and her
mom wasn’t very sociable,” she said. “But I
now work at Blue Baker with her and through
giving her rides home and getting to know the
family, we’re really close now. I was invited to
the kids’ birthday party the other week, so
we’re tight.”
This past summer, Kayron was one of 42
kids given the opportunity to go to camp
through Youth Impact. They raised
funds for camp by having a pancake
breakfast, a letter writing campaign
to Youth Impact alumni and a pres
entation on Parents Weekend.
Kayron said she had a great
time swimming and doing all
the typical camp activities. She
said she made friends in her
, except for her bunkmate who
she didn’t like because “she was all up
in my business.”
Some bonds formed through Youth
Impact do not end after graduation.
Kleckley returns to College Station peri
odically to see Brandon Headge, whom
he mentored for three years.
“I’m here because of Brandon. I keep
up with him and check in on him all the
time,” Kleckley said. “I make sure he
doing well with his grades, his
friends and making good decisions
in his life.”
Youth Impact’s goal is to
turn the program over to kids
who have gone through it.
“We want to teach these kids
what it is like to build relation
ships,” Kleckley said. “This will
allow them to grow and turn around
and take back their neighborhoods.”