By Marissa Ferguson
After weeks of paper sorting and interviews, Treadaway Kids is back in full swing this year as it begins its weekly ministry to underprivileged children in the area.
With an 80 percent turnover rate from last year’s membership, the organization is preparing to pair with children from Ortiz Elementary and other schools.
Treadaway Kids president Todd Selby said the group meets on Thursday nights at University Church of Christ, where the kids are split by grades and taken into classrooms where ACU students teach them biblical principals.
Children who are chosen to participate in Treadaway Kids often live in low-income areas and are referred by their school counselor. There is no cap on the number of children selected, but the group aims to keep the number low to best fit the children’s needs.
“The mission is to show the children of Abilene the love and lessons of Jesus,” Samantha Manski, faculty advisor, said.
The organization is working to plan new additions to the curriculum implemented this year.
Manski said this year’s program includes children as old as eighth grade, as opposed to other years when children were only accepted through fifth grade. She said the program will also add a new class devoted specifically to girls in sixth through eighth grade and will meet at a regular Wednesday Chapel to encourage group bonding between members.
“In Chapel we work on building community and that strong bond between members so that we can have each other to lean on outside, as well as inside, of Treadaway Kids,” Manski said. “It really shows when members work well together.”
The program is often confused with Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS), but Selby emphasized the two groups are quite unique.
“The main difference is that we have weekly set times and the program is more of a ministry base,” Selby said. “With Treadaway Kids there is more of a learning environment and group association.”
Although the program offers two hours of service a week, student directors encourage members to be truly invested in their “kiddos.”
“We see the greatest impact in our kids,” Selby said. “They are really rowdy when the kids first join, but then we put expectations on them and become their friend. They don’t want to disobey the rules because they want to be our friend.”