New King’s Kids site opens

Published 11:47 pm Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Just a few weeks before the program is to celebrate its 20th anniversary, King’s Kids of America cut the ribbon on Tuesday for its seventh Suffolk location.

There was something of a party atmosphere in the parking lot of Heaven on Earth Ministries on East Pinner Street, as volunteers, children and elected officials all gathered to celebrate the program’s new site.

King’s Kids is a program that aims to help teach young people from 4 to 23 years of age how to make decisions that will keep them out of trouble and make them productive members of society.

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“We want to teach children to make wholesome decisions on their own,” said Betty Knight, who is the Suffolk organization’s volunteer executive director.

The program runs weekly for an hour at each of seven different sites throughout the southern part of Suffolk. Participants take part in games, activities and projects, and they learn about a variety of topics, ranging from the significance of various holidays to etiquette to health, safety and leadership skills.

“It’s important, because you have to have somebody who’s going to bridge the gap,” Knight said, noting that schools and parents often don’t have or take the time to instruct children and teens in the importance of personal responsibility.

Nearly 20 years ago, Bishop Obadiah Colander, who was the pastor of Faith Temple Ministries Apostolic Church, decided something needed to be done to help Suffolk’s children and teens learn to make good decisions that would help them stay out of trouble — “what it takes a person to live and survive,” in Knight’s words.

His idea of training the whole person — mind, body and spirit — grew from its original location in his church to the point where it now serves more than 275 children around the city. Knight expects the new location to increase that level of participation to more than 300 children.

“He always had a vision,” Knight said. “We want to continue to take that vision on.”

City officials on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony said the late Bishop Colander’s vision has had a positive impact on many of the city’s children through the years.

“There are a lot of negative influences out there, and this is one of the positive influences,” Suffolk Commonwealth’s Attorney C. Phillips “Phil” Ferguson said.

He added that he couldn’t remember having seen many of the program’s active participants wind up in a Suffolk criminal court.

Suffolk Circuit Court Clerk Randy Carter agreed. “I was in there for 17 years, and I didn’t see any King’s Kids come through,” he said.

Carter, Ferguson and Sheriff Raleigh Isaacs were all on hand at the event on Tuesday. All three also are members of the Suffolk Rotary Club. Ferguson said that the proceeds from the club’s annual Shrimp Feast go toward the King’s Kids program.

“It helps kids in our community develop positive attitudes, a positive outlook on life, so they grow up to be positive citizens,” Ferguson said.

For more information about the King’s Kids program, its schedules or locations, contact Betty Knight at 539-6918.