There is an atmosphere of peace that surrounds Circle 4 Success as the children sit back and relax while they indulge in “God time.” It marks the time when children practice their reading, listening and visual skills through praise and worship.
The children have complete control. They read the stories aloud and run the slideshow.
Circle 4 Success is one of 14 programs within Circle Urban Ministries, located at 118 N. Central Ave. Faith serves as the foundation of each program.
“This is your time between you and the King,” said Jackie Busch, as she explained the topic the children should be writing about in their journals.
On this day, the program’s focus is the biblical verse Luke 10:27. Busch notes that the No. 4 in the title Circle 4 Success stands for heart, soul, strength and mind.
Every approach in the Circle 4 Success program has a different purpose. The “heart” segment is meant to help the students with their social and emotional development. “Soul” focuses on the spiritual growth of the child. “Strength” is geared toward character and skill development, and “mind” emphasizes academic enrichment.
The journal entry time is a debrief that allows the children to reflect on themselves and the people they want to become.
“We refer to the kids as King’s Kids, so that they know we don’t look at them as they appear but as who they are,” said Busch, who serves as program director.
Enrichment activities are critical to fulfill the mission of all 14 programs, including Circle 4 Success, which serves 63 kids from grades K-8. Circle Urban Ministries works with the Catalyst School-Circle Rock, which is also located inside the organization’s building and where the students attend school.
Busch says the newest addition to these activities is LIFT, where the children are part of five teams: dance, art, flipside, percussion and spoken word. Throughout the year the children will learn routines that they will present in spring 2011 in a theatrical performance.
“The desire of this program is to help children with educational outcomes,” said Bob Mead, resource development director.
Some of the other enrichment activities include mural painting, keyboarding, art and archery.
Besides enrichment activities, staff at Circle 4 Success want the children to learn social skills.
“We want to teach the children manners,” said Chris Williams. “Sometimes they get so lax they forget.”
Williams is one of the program guides. In that role, she encourages the children to follow the right spiritual path, and reiterates lessons and bible verses as well as helps with homework.
She has been part of the program since January and works with 4th and 5th grade boys.
Circle 4 Success gets funding from outside donors but also charges a monthly fee to each child. Busch says everyone pays something, based on income, because the program believes anything of value should not be free. Families pay $10 to $150 a month for the program, which costs $400 per child.
Circle Urban Ministries does not accept money from the state or federal government because it’s a Christian organization and wants to hold fast to that, Busch said.
Parents needing assistance can volunteer.
“We offer parent vouchers. Depending on the amount of hours the parents work, they receive a voucher off their monthly payment,” said Busch.
Darriel S. Anderson has a 5-year-old daughter in the program. Anderson volunteers an hour every week.
“It has been a great experience,” said Anderson. “The concepts I’ve learned here have helped me become a better volunteer, parent and Sunday school teacher.”