Our Wednesday night class is large, composed of a completely different group of kids than Sunday. It spans 5-6 grades, and a wider array of backgrounds. Helping these kids learn to get along has been a major focus of our program, and we seem to have hit upon a chord that really resonated with this group. We call it our Safe Place.
Not the official police program, but our policy. Kids Club is a safe place. It is a place we can come and not be insulted, criticized, ignored, or otherwise treated poorly. There are lots of places in life that we get treated poorly by others: school, work, sports, even at home. But we choose that Kids Club is different. We choose that Kids Club is a safe place to be. Cause if church isn’t safe, comfortable, and welcoming then no place is.
It’s amazing how quickly and completely the kids latched on to the idea that there could be a place without drama, without ridicule. We have complete buy-in, even if sometimes unspoken, that the goal is worthy. They quickly started policing each other with the phrase, “this is a safe place – we don’t do that”.
Is their behavior perfect? Far from it. They are kids. They are tired. They don’t have a lot of places to practice this. But they agree it is a goal worth shooting for. Do we have to discipline? Absolutely. But no one argues with us when we discipline on this concept, because they want what we are offering.
New kids have a hard time grasping the concept. It’s kind of sad, really, that this is such a rare ideal. But that’s what makes it so important.
Now, on to getting the adults on board…..