education, Stories

Why we need after school programs

Why we need after school programs: how poverty affects inner city youth and how after school programs can help. Read about it at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com.
I think somewhere in the back of our minds we have a vague notion that after school programs are a good idea. Keep kids busy, keep them out of trouble. But what would happen if there weren’t any after school programs? What would it look like if we lived in a world where kids had no adult supervision or planned activities after school?

To understand this scenario, we need to visit the hood for a little bit. If you read this post, A Day in the Life of an At-Risk Youth, it will make more sense to you. In the ideal situation, when a child gets out of school, he or she comes home to a loving parent or relative who fixes them a nice snack, helps them with their homework, and asks them how their day went. 

Unfortunately, in our neighborhood, 90% of our kids are from single-parent homes, which means that there may or may not be someone at home for them. 

Of our families that have two parents, both parents are working multiple minimum wage jobs, trying to support their family members in America (and many in other countries as well). 

There are four major problems kids face when they don’t have adult supervision after school. 

1. Exposure to opportunities to join gangs, use drugs, and engage prematurely in sexual activity. 

More than 500 youths have been killed in Chicago since 2008. Teens who attend after school programs are more than three times less likely to use drugs and alcohol, smoke cigarettes, and participate in sexual activity. 

Why we need after school programs: how poverty affects inner city youth and how after school programs can help. Read about it at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. 2. Poor educational support. 

Kids are not getting the homework help they need with adults absent during the long stretch of time between when school gets out and when parents get home from work. Only 26% of students from our local elementary school meet state standards for math. In our after school program, 43% of our students maintain a B average in math. 

3. Lack of teaching and mentoring on life topics such as healthy eating and relationships. 

God gave us parents for a reason! But when they are stretched thin or not there at all, often crucial topics such as taking care of your body and how to treat others can often go overlooked. Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. At Starfish we provide healthy snacks as well as nutritional teaching. 

Why we need after school programs: how poverty affects inner city youth and how after school programs can help. Read about it at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. 4. Perpetuation of the poverty cycle that keeps people in low-paying jobs or on welfare. 

Without the proper inspiration and guidance, kids are likely to walk in the footsteps of their parents and instead of reaching hard to graduate college and prepare for a solid career, they will succumb to the influence of their peers and focus on the wrong things. Nearly 40% of Chicago Public School students drop out of high school, and that number is higher for kids in our neighborhood who are among the poorest in the city. At Starfish, our graduation rate is 100%. 

Why we need after school programs: how poverty affects inner city youth and how after school programs can help. Read about it at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. The need for support for our youth can be overwhelming! Fortunately, as you can see in this post (5 ways we’re reaching this fatherless generation), programs like ours can really help a lot. If you are interested in partnering with us to help combat the problems inner city youth face today, you can either donate by clicking this link: PayPal.me/starfishchicago, or you can visit this page to learn about volunteer opportunities. 

Why we need after school programs: how poverty affects inner city youth and how after school programs can help. Read about it at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com.
Why we need after school programs: how poverty affects inner city youth and how after school programs can help. Read about it at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com.
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Activities, Stories

How to have the best summer ever: tales of our 2017 retreat

If you read our last post, you would understand that making inner city youth feel loved through providing educational and recreational experiences is a priority at the center. Every summer we take our kids on a ten day retreat where we visit all kinds  of cool places in the Midwest. In this post you can check out some of the exciting things we did this year!

The first thing we did was to head to Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City, Michigan. Great Wolf Lodge is a fantastic water resort packed with water slides and activities that are really fun for kids (and grown-ups!) of all ages. We spent two nights there, and so had plenty of time to enjoy all the resort had to offer, including some great meals!

After that we headed over to Mears, MI to Mac Woods Dune Rides. This is a perfect activity for the outdoors lovers. At Mac Woods you get to ride an open-air vehicle that effortlessly climbs the highest dunes providing you with thrilling descents and breathtaking vistas. Mid-tour you get to stick your toes in the lake before climbing aboard again to listen to the fascinating historical narrative. 

After our dunes adventure, the Starfish crew headed back to home base, where later we got to see some pretty amazing fireworks! We also got to go swimming, which is always a big hit with the kids, AND the kids got to make their own hamburger meat and ice cream. 

Soon after that we had a kickball game with our friends from First Lutheran. I would tell you that our kids aren’t very competitive, but that would be a lie. Sports are always a big hit, especially with the older kids. Later, our kids had a great time enjoying a little friendly competition while bowling. 

Following those exciting and competitive activities, the kids and Starfish staff enjoyed a trip to Barnes and Noble bookstore – and were blessed with a bunch of books! At Starfish we believe that education and literacy are crucial to our students’ success in life, and strive to give them the tools to succeed in this area. Reading is important!

The whole crew then boarded a bus to head to Shipshewana, IN, to visit Dutch Creek Farm Animal Park. This Amish Farm was unlike anything we had ever experienced. The highlight of the farm was a safari-style ride through the grounds where scores of different types of animals came up to our vehicle and we were able to feed them as our guide narrated the experience. The interaction was priceless! We’ve seen most of those animals before, but not up that close! 

After the Amish farm, the crew spent the day in Shipshewana, enjoying shopping and some Amish musical theater at the Blue Gate Theater. Amish food is delicious!

After Shipshewana, we traveled via bus to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, which also happens to be the world’s largest children’s museum. From the race car exhibit, to the interactive dance exhibit, the museum was packed full of exciting things for our kids to explore. 

After the museum, we returned to Michigan to enjoy gobs of delicious food and a baseball game! Starfish watched the Lansing Lugnuts play and a great time was had by all. 

After these adventures we really were quite worn out and ready to return home, but we will never forget the sweet memories of our trip! A special thanks to everyone who made this amazing trip possible. Until next year!

If you want to be part of creating amazing experiences like this for at-risk inner city youth, you can make a donation at PayPal.me/starfishchicago. Partner with us to transform lives!

Activities

Using extravagant love to transform the lives of youth

Using extravagant love to transform the lives of inner city youth: how we reach inner city youth with these at-risk youth activities that are changing lives. Read about it at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. Every year we take our kids on a summer retreat to Michigan. This year we started off our retreat with two nights at Great Wolf Lodge, an exciting water resort. The kids will also experience fun and unique activities at the ranch house including an arcade, a swimming pool, a pantry stocked with snacks and candy, a giant playground, golf carts, bikes and electric scooters, and more. 

On past trips we’ve taken the kids to Mackinac Island, to the Creation Museum, to play laser tag, to the movies, and more. On this trip we plan to take the kids to see an Amish farm, a baseball game, a children’s museum, and Barnes and Noble where we plan to buy them each books. 

Using extravagant love to transform the lives of inner city youth: how we reach inner city youth with these at-risk youth activities that are changing lives. Read about it at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. A lot of our activities are educational, but most of them are just fun stuff that they wouldn’t have the opportunity to experience otherwise. Our kids grow up in the inner city of Chicago, surrounded by drug use, gang violence, and the cycle of interrupted education. 

We make it our goal to not only provide them with educational experiences, but  also with entertaining, multi-cultural activities that they will remember for the rest of their lives. We want our kids to know that they are loved, they are valued, and that we enjoy spending time with them. 

Using extravagant love to transform the lives of inner city youth: how we reach inner city youth with these at-risk youth activities that are changing lives. Read about it at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. Why is that important? In this post here we talk about the epidemic of fatherlessness and how our program aims to combat some of its effects. Our kids desperately need both a broader experience of the world, outside of their sometimes toxic environment, and they need to feel secure in both the parental and friend-type relationships an extended outing experience like our summer retreat provides. 

If you are interested in supporting our program so that we can provide more of these experiences to at-risk youth in Chicago, you can donate at PayPal.me/starfishchicago. Make a note that it is for our Outings and Events Program. Together we can transform the hearts and minds of the inner city youth of Chicago. 

Activities

How to have fun with your kids in Chicago this summer 

How to have fun with your kids this summer in Chicago: if you're looking for things to do in Chicago with your kids, or you just need a resource that lists parks, splash parks, hiking, biking ideas and more, you should check out this post at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. In this post here we shared some educational activities you can try to keep your kids’ minds sharp and busy this summer. However, in Chicago, the weather is only nice for half of the year, so you gotta get out and enjoy it while you can! Today we’re sharing some great ideas for getting out and spending quality time with your kids while the weather is still nice. We live in a great city; you might as well take advantage of it!

Maggie Daley Park

This park is the mother lode. It is the biggest park in Chicagoland as far as we can see. It’s actually several mini parks including a couple of splash parks in one, and it’s right in downtown not too far from Millennium Park. 

606 trail

The 606 used to be an abandoned railway, but now it’s 2.7 miles of multi-use recreational trails and parks. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you should! It’s in the Humboldt Park neighborhood, and is easily accessible by train or bus. 

Splash parks

It gets crazy hot here in the Chi in the summer, so you need to keep those kids wet! Click here for a list of the best splash parks in the area, because you know your kid is gonna love it!
How to have fun with your kids this summer in Chicago: if you're looking for things to do in Chicago with your kids, or you just need a resource that lists parks, splash parks, hiking, biking ideas and more, you should check out this post at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. Swimming pools 

One of the best parts of living in Chicago is enjoying the free swimming pools that the park district has to offer! Click this link to search all the pools in the Chicago Park District. 

Hiking

Chicago may be urban, but we still have forest preserves! It will do you all some good to spend some time in the woods this summer. Check out this article for a list of Chicago spots to go hiking. 

Bike riding on the lakefront trail

Nothing quite as exhilarating as riding your bike with the wind at your back (okay, maybe a little bit TOO MUCH wind), Lake Michigan on one side, and skyscrapers on the other. Just make sure not to bring your littles on this path, because the other bikers and runners can be a little aggressive. 

Baseball game

We have not one, but TWO Major League Baseball teams in our great city, so take your kids to a game!

Architectural river cruise

This one is a tourist staple, so if you’re a local and you haven’t seen the city by boat, you’re missing out!

How to have fun with your kids this summer in Chicago: if you're looking for things to do in Chicago with your kids, or you just need a resource that lists parks, splash parks, hiking, biking ideas and more, you should check out this post at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. Navy Pier

Navy Pier is expensive, so you can’t go all the time, but at least once a year you should take your kids. There’s a Ferris wheel, mini golf, an awesome children’s museum, cute shops and restaurants and more. 

Outdoor mini golf

This is so much fun for the kids, even if you’re terrible at it! Take advantage of the warm weather, and if it’s raining you can find an indoor course. 

Movies in the park

Free movies! Yes! If your kids are a little past the toddler age, this is a great option for those beautiful summer nights. 

Outdoor music festivals 

These are perfect for the older kids! They’re also a great way to bond with that teen who forgot how to relate to their parents. 

Beach

What’s a summer without the beach? Fortunately, Chicago has a TON for you to visit with your kids. 

What are you doing with your kids this summer that didn’t make our list?

Christianity, philanthropy, Volunteering

Why you should care about the fate of inner-city youth

Why you should care about the fate of inner-city youth: how is volunteering and donating to a non profit organization that serves at-risk youth going to benefit you? Find out at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com.As middle-class Americans living our day-to-day lives, it’s easy to get preoccupied with our own problems. Where are my kids going to school? How can I get that promotion at work? I need to save up to buy my own place so I’m not burning money in rent. With all these issues going on in our own lives, who has time to think about someone else’s problems?

Unfortunately, letting your own life and problems completely consume you is no way to live. There is a whole host of reasons why it’s better to let yourself care for a cause outside of your own little bubble, and today I’m sharing a few reasons why I’ve found that serving others, specifically at-risk inner city youth, can change my life for the good. 

Why you should care about the fate of inner-city youth: how is volunteering and donating to a non profit organization that serves at-risk youth going to benefit you? Find out at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com.Helping others makes me happy. 

In this post here I talk about how volunteering can bring meaning to your own life as well as perspective. Sometimes until we see someone else’s life with all their problems, it’s easy to blow our own out of proportion. You can have the right family, the right job, and the right house, and still be consumed with what you don’t have. The missing element in your life may not be more stuff, but more compassion. More perspective. More friendship. It’s definitely worth a shot. 

What kind of world will my kids face?

The world is filled with hurt people who end up hurting other people. Problems like poverty and violence exist no matter how hard we try to ignore them. Chances are the brokenness in this world will end up touching one of your kids sooner or later. While you can’t fix everything, you can make a small impact and teach your children to do the same. 

Why you should care about the fate of inner-city youth: how is volunteering and donating to a non profit organization that serves at-risk youth going to benefit you? Find out at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com.What kind of legacy am I leaving here on earth?

When you die, do you think you will be remembered for how much money you made or how many things you owned? How about for how many vacations a year you took? Would you even want to be remembered for those things? What are your kids going to remember you for? How much time you spent with them? That’s pretty good. 

How about how you had a heart of compassion for those less fortunate than you and how you sowed into the lives of inner city youth with your time and money, the two things that matter the most? That is the kind of legacy I want to leave for my kids. 

Learn all about Starfish, a charitable organization making a difference in the lives of at-risk youth in Chicago. For Christians: how am I living out the mandate of the Great Commission?

I know that many of us who live in these beautiful United States of America claim to be Christian. Is that just a belief, or do our lives bear testimony to that belief? Sometimes we need to do a little self-evaluation: am I living mainly for myself, or is helping others a priority in my life? Inner-city youth are hungry for the truth of God’s Word. There are hundreds of thousands of believers living in the city who could easily take a little time out of their lives to share the gospel with them, or donate money to organizations that do so. 

There are so many causes out there; so many excellent organizations and churches doing so much good. Ours is just one of many, but you are right here, right now, reading this. Maybe this is your time to change your life by changing someone else’s. For more information on how you can change the trajectory of an inner city youth’s life, visit starfishchicago.org


philanthropy

5 ways your donation impacts at-risk youth

5 ways your donation impacts at-risk youth: if you're looking for charitable organizations to contribute financially to, Starfish makes a difference in the lives of inner city youth. Discover all the ways we impact lives at starfishchicago.org.

If you’ve been following our blog, you know that today’s inner city youth are in desperate need of a safe place to go after school where they can be tutored, mentored, and nourished. Our after school program has been providing that for twenty years. There are several ways to partner with us to make a difference in the lives of at-risk youth: you can spread the word about Starfish by word of mouth and social media, you can volunteer a special skill or tutor during our program, you can donate items that our program can use, or you can give financially to support Starfish. 

If you decide that Starfish is an organization you want to sow into by donating financially, you can be sure that your gift will have major direct impact on the lives of at-risk inner city youth. Here are some of the ways partnering with us financially can make a difference:

1. Our kids have a safe place to go after school

If you read our post A Day in the Life of an At-Risk Youth, you can see what kind of challenges inner-city minority children are up against. Many have parents who are unable to provide childcare after school, thus the kids are free to roam the dangerous streets and mix with the wrong crowd. The absence of a nurturing adult presence during those crucial hours contributes heavily to the future of these kids. 

Starfish has been consistently providing programming after school for the youth of our neighborhood for twenty years. This service is made possible by the generous donation of individuals like you. Even the small donations add up and provide for our kids. 

5 ways your donation impacts at-risk youth: if you're looking for charitable organizations to contribute financially to, Starfish makes a difference in the lives of inner city youth. Discover all the ways we impact lives at starfishchicago.org. 2. We are able to purchase updated equipment to help our kids academically

Kids need items like computers, printers, office supplies, and school project supplies to successfully complete their school assignments. Parents can’t always afford these supplies. Many of our students do not even have a computer or printer at home. Without these tools, excelling academically is a serious challenge. Starfish is thankful for our donors who partner with us to make these essentials available to our kids. 

Learn all about Starfish, a charitable organization making a difference in the lives of at-risk youth in Chicago. 3. We are able to provide nutritious snacks during the program

If you read this article here, you see that inner city youth don’t always have the resources or understanding about nutrition to make food choices that are good for them. Some of them are lucky even to have unhealthy snacks. At Starfish we serve nutritious snacks twice daily during our program. These snacks are made possible by donations from people like you. 

4. Our kids can enjoy activities like arts and crafts and cooking classes

Starfish doesn’t just provide tutoring to our kids. We want to teach them life skills and hand them the tools to soar in life. Our goal is to teach them to be productive members of society, nurturing wholesome hobbies and skills that keep them focused when the distractions of living in the inner city pull them towards destructive relationships and habits. We have several programs that do just that, but these programs cost money! We need to buy arts and crafts supplies and food and cooking tools. We need volunteers and paid staff to teach and train them. Your financial gift helps us do just that. 

5 ways your donation impacts at-risk youth: if you're looking for charitable organizations to contribute financially to, Starfish makes a difference in the lives of inner city youth. Discover all the ways we impact lives at starfishchicago.org. 5. Students can enjoy educational and recreational outings 

Several of our kids spend most of their lives in the bubble of their neighborhood. We want them to see that their is a broader world out there, filled with opportunities and healthy relationships. Starfish provides outings to museums, sports and recreational facilities, churches, food pantries and homeless shelters, and much more! Our kids have the chance to explore Chicago as well as other nearby states during our yearly retreat. Your donation helps cover the cost of these events, and broadens the horizon for at-risk youth. 

Now that you can see specifically how your donation impacts our youth, consider giving to our program today. All donations are tax-deductible. Follow us on social media on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for regular updates as to the activities and developments of our program. 

education

15 educational activities for kids

15 educational activities for kids: from science experiments to reading activities, this list is a great resource for parents and teachers! Find it at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com.
Summer is coming soon, and I know what the kids are thinking: “Yay! No school!” The parents, on the other hand are thinking, “No school? What am I gonna do with these guys?!” No worries! We here at Starfish have scoured the world of Pinterest for the best educational activities for your kids, so you can keep ’em busy, and keep ’em learning! Click each title to visit the original post with instructions and images for each activity. 

1. Make your own solar oven

Because, you know, summer! I’ve always wanted to try this one. 

2. Counting money in cupcake liners

Creativity is the key to getting kids to like math. 

3. Fraction flowers using paper plates

This post includes a set of printable fraction circles!

4. Make a homemade bird feeder 

This one is so simple to make. Only three steps. 

5. STEM challenge: how many drops of water can you put on a coin?

Teach your kids about surface tension with this science activity that will get your kids thinking. 

15 educational activities for kids: from science experiments to reading activities, this list is a great resource for parents and teachers! Find it at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. 6. Multiplication squares game

The traditional competitive game of squares with a math twist!

7. Sight word twister

A great way to combine a gross motor activity that kids love with practicing reading skills.  

8. Telling time puzzles

Make telling time fun and interactive for kids. Includes free printable!

9. Shaving cream rain clouds

This hands-on science activity is colorful and exciting!

10. Sunshine addition fact families activity 

Make math fun for your first grader with this addition activity that uses clothespins.

15 educational activities for kids: from science experiments to reading activities, this list is a great resource for parents and teachers! Find it at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. 11. Sidewalk chalk sight words and ABCs activities 

This post has 30+ sidewalk chalk activities that help with letters and reading!

12. Disappearing egg shell activity

This is a fun experiment for kids of all ages!

13. Cup equation spinners

A unique math game that your kids will enjoy for sure.

14. Little spelling boxes

This activity you can actually take with you when you’re on the go!

15. Epic slime recipe

Because what kid isn’t a fan of slime?

Starfish Learning Center is an after school program for at-risk youth in the inner city of Chicago! Visit our website to find out how you can partner with us to change lives: starfishchicago.org.  At Starfish, we love finding fun and creative ways to get our kids learning! Hopefully these ideas will get your kids off their screens and get their brains active. Have a great summer!

15 educational activities for kids: from science experiments to reading activities, this list is a great resource for parents and teachers! Find it at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com.
Uncategorized

5 ways we’re reaching this fatherless generation

5 ways we're reaching this fatherless generation: too many kids today grow up without a dad, and it's creating a culture of crime and poverty. What can be done to combat this epidemic? Find out at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. It’s no secret that kids growing up without a dad are at a distinct disadvantage. In a study cited by fatherhoodfactor.com, individuals from father-absent homes were found to be 279% more likely to carry guns and deal drugs than peers living with their fathers. The presence of a dad is necessary for complete emotional development. Females need the security provided by their dad to properly navigate future male relationships. 

23.6% of children lived in father-absent homes in 2014 (fatherhoodfactor.com). If this many kids are living in such a way where their needs are not being met, how does this bode for our society? How can we expect a bright future for our culture, when the very foundation, our children, is almost 25% weakened?

5 ways we're reaching this fatherless generation: too many kids today grow up without a dad, and it's creating a culture of crime and poverty. What can be done to combat this epidemic? Find out at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. Starfish Learning Center, a Christian non-profit organization in the inner city of Chicago, has been dedicated to reaching at-risk youth, many of whom are without a dad. Here are five ways we’re reaching this fatherless generation:

1.  Consistent male presence after school

Starfish is led by our male program director and our male executive director. Either one or the other are always present during our program hours. Having the same staff consistently available to speak into the lives of our kids grounds them in a way that is essential. In a transient world filled with fleeting friendships and broken family relationships, consistency is key. 

5 ways we're reaching this fatherless generation: too many kids today grow up without a dad, and it's creating a culture of crime and poverty. What can be done to combat this epidemic? Find out at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. 2. Biblical teaching/mentoring

One of the deepest needs every child has is to grow in understanding of God’s Word. This is especially true of kids who come from a broken home and need the truth of God to repair and guide their lives. At Starfish we apply the Word of God to real-life scenarios in a regular setting during Bible study time. We teach the ways of God in a way that transforms broken thinking and patterns into a way of living that is fruitful and wholesome. 

5 ways we're reaching this fatherless generation: too many kids today grow up without a dad, and it's creating a culture of crime and poverty. What can be done to combat this epidemic? Find out at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. 3. Educational support

Kids that come from broken homes are at risk for poor performance at school. Lack of support from home combined with the stress of a less-than-ideal home life threaten a child’s ability to succeed academically. At Starfish we make up for the lack by providing tutoring and resources to help our kids excel in school. Monitoring grades and report cards has shown that our students are excelling beyond their classmates. 

4. Partnerships with other organizations 

Students in our organization not only are impacted by our stellar group of staff and volunteers, but Starfish partners with other organizations like Grip and First Lutheran of Charlotte. Developing friendships with healthy and mature peers and adults helps to reinforce the positive teaching and mentoring that takes place during our program. Our kids are affirmed, challenged, and inspired to live according to God’s best for them. 

5 ways we're reaching this fatherless generation: too many kids today grow up without a dad, and it's creating a culture of crime and poverty. What can be done to combat this epidemic? Find out at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com.

5. Stable environment 

For many youth, their home situation is in a constant state of flux. They never know where or with whom they will be living with, and relationships are constantly changing. Starfish has been a permanent fixture in the neighborhood for twenty years. Our steady presence has been a consistent haven for over 1,000 women, children, and teenagers in crisis. Our kids can trust us and count on us to be there when times are good, and when times are rough. 

We can’t change the statistics or prevent families from being torn apart; we can only pray. However, God has called us to be a haven and a resource for the fatherless, pointing the way to Jesus and to wholeness. Our mission is to love, mentor, and educate at-risk youth in Chicago. We’ve done it for twenty years, and, Lord willing, we will continue for much more. 

If you want to become part of the solution, if you have a heart for reaching this fatherless generation, we would love to connect with you! Visit here to find out all the ways you can get involved. 

Christianity

The best way to teach kids Bible meditation

The best way to teach your kids Bible meditation: see how we taught a group of kids to meditate on scripture and download a free printable to help. Check it out at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. One of the most important things we can do at the center is to teach the Word of God to our kids, and to guide them into experiencing Him themselves in a way that greatly impacts their life. At Starfish we regularly teach the Word using multimedia, arts and crafts, music, and personal testimony. We recently taught them Bible meditation using a method that we’re sharing today in this post. 

The best way to teach your kids Bible meditation: see how we taught a group of kids to meditate on scripture and download a free printable to help. Check it out at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. The reason we felt that Bible meditation is important to our kids is that it teaches them to be quiet before God, to listen to what He has to say, and to really think about Bible verses instead of just rushing through them. It’s very important to us that our kids experience a deep, legitimate connection with God, and that they aren’t just parroting things they’ve learned from us, but have really made a relationship with God their own. 

We designed a worksheet that we’re sharing with you that guides kids into meditation. Rather than covering a lot of scripture, we think it’s best to choose one verse and break it into parts for the kids to chew on. Here is an example of a scripture our kids recently meditated on. Feel free to click on the image to download and print it for reference. 

The best way to teach your kids Bible meditation: see how we taught a group of kids to meditate on scripture and download a free printable to help. Check it out at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com.
When we did this exercise, we had worship music playing softly in the background and we didn’t rush the kids into finishing but we let them take their time. If any of them had any questions, we had them silently raise their hands and a staff member would help them. 

Here is the blank version you can click on to save and print so your kids (or you!) can use it for meditation:

The best way to teach your kids Bible meditation: see how we taught a group of kids to meditate on scripture and download a free printable to help. Check it out at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com.
We loved seeing what the kids wrote in the “ask God what it means” section. It’s also a great tool to open the kids up to discussion about God and the Bible. Let us know if you use our sheets and how it goes!

The best way to teach your kids Bible meditation: see how we taught a group of kids to meditate on scripture and download a free printable to help. Check it out at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com.

The best way to teach your kids Bible meditation: see how we taught a group of kids to meditate on scripture and download a free printable to help. Check it out at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com.
Health and nutrition

6 nutrition habits of inner city youth

6 nutrition habits of inner city youth: our youth are making poor diet choices, and it's influencing their health. Read about their diet choices at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. I’ve worked with inner city youth since 2009. During this time I’ve noticed certain diet trends persist amongst the youth, reinforced by the habits of those around them, and lack of substantial understanding of the long term effects of an unhealthy diet. At Starfish, we’ve made it a goal not only to provide healthy snacks for our kids, but to educate them as to why eating healthy food is important. 

In this post, I’ve included my observations as to some of the unhealthy eating habits of inner city youth.

6 nutrition habits of inner city youth: our youth are making poor diet choices, and it's influencing their health. Read about their diet choices at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com.
The recommended daily sugar intake for kids is 25 grams a day. This juice has 68.
1. Extreme sugar intake

My husband and I love sweets. However, because we’ve been educated on the subject, we understand the consequences of going overboard. Sometimes we’ll watch with morbid fascination as a young kid will pop open a giant container of “juice”, whose name undoubtedly leads the parents to believe it’s healthy for the kids. Of course, we have to check the label. The American Heart Association recommends 25 grams of added sugar daily for kids. The sugar in one of these monstrous drinks alone can sometimes be up to 68 grams, mainly because it’s three servings or so, but the kids will drink the whole thing. 

2. School meals

School meals are a blessing for busy low-income parents, but they aren’t always healthy, and neither are they always appetizing. Depending on what’s on the menu, kids may choose to skip it altogether. Of course, that goes for when mom packs their lunch, also …

6 nutrition habits of inner city youth: our youth are making poor diet choices, and it's influencing their health. Read about their diet choices at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. 3. Unhealthy after school snacks

Many kids walk home or to their after school program after school. They’re understandably very hungry, and they often hit up the local convenience store to remedy that. Unfortunately, their nutritional choices are usually poor. They usually walk away with chips (not the healthy kind), sweets, and … juice. 

4. Long stretches between meals

Often both mom and dad have to work to pay the bills, or just one parent is providing for the whole family. A lot of times these guys are super-hungry for more than just a snack, but then they don’t get dinner often until 9 or 10 at night. That’s a long time for a growing kid to go without a good meal!

Starfish Learning Center: an after school program for at-risk youth in the inner city of Chicago. Learn more at starfishchicago.org. 5. Limited fruit and vegetables 

At Starfish, we serve two snacks during our program hours, and the first snack is always a fruit or a vegetable. We know that these kids might not be getting them at home or school. We also work on making them enticing by offering new recipes and ideas, because we know if kids aren’t used to it they won’t touch it. While we know that ample fruits and vegetables are vital to complete nutrition, kids who have either limited or questionable adult guidance on food choices, often skip the fruit and veggies, especially the raw, whole variety. Fruit juices or fruits in heavy syrup aren’t as healthy, and many people favor cooked vegetables over the raw ones, even though raw ones are essential. 

6 nutrition habits of inner city youth: our youth are making poor diet choices, and it's influencing their health. Read about their diet choices at starfishchicagoblog.wordpress.com. 6. Reluctance to try (or like) new foods

As a grown parent with kids, I’ve exposed them to a wide variety of foods, including many different ethnic varieties. At Starfish, we are constantly teaching the kids to cook new foods, and on outings we’ll take them to a variety of restaurants. Our experience is that they eat what they’re comfortable with, and that’s what they stick with! Most kids don’t often get out far past their neighborhood, and the variety of food offered isn’t that great. We hope that continually introducing things will engender a willingness to try new food, and, in turn, a more balanced diet. 

At Starfish, we know we can’t change the choices kids make when it comes to their diet, but our hope is that through introducing and educating our youth on healthy food, we can influence their future diet.