Helping youth is focus of group

Karen Reynolds
Contributing Writer

Recently the Ripley County faith community teamed up with the ASAP (Association for Substance Abuse Prevention) Center and Indiana Youth Institute to celebrate the completion of a two-year-long asset building training series. This was held at the Church on the Rock in Batesville.

The faith-based group invited other agencies that work with youth within the community to join them in celebration. Churches participating in the faith-based asset training were Church on the Rock of Batesville; Grace Community International, New Marion Baptist Church, Solid Rock Bible Fellowship, St. Paul Lutheran, Olean, St. Peter’s United Church of Christ (Fink’s), The Upper Room Fellowship, and Versailles Community Church.

Other groups represented at this celebration were the ASAP Center, Indiana Youth Institute (IYI), the Versailles Lion’s Club, Tyson Library, Voices for Children (CASA), Child Evangelism Fellowship (Good News Clubs), Community Partners, First Baptist Church of Milan, Southeastern Indiana Learning Center, the Osgood Journal and The Versailles Republican, and the Herald Tribune.

At least two youth groups were represented at the celebration: The Rock Solid Youth group with youth pastors Danny and Heather May and Tyson Library’s TNTeen group with coordinator Kim Edwards.

Vicki Culler, director of ASAP, Cincinnati, OH, provided asset training and worked closely with this group. Each group received a $100 voucher from Culler for participating. The money is to be used to purchase asset-building materials to enrich the lives of area youth. She also made available $200 to congregations. “It’s been a pleasure to witness your caring, commitment, and creativity. As a result of your participation, your congregation is eligible to receive $200 to support its intentional asset building efforts.”

Paula Goodpaster from the Upper Room Fellowship was on hand to remind the group that asset training “helps us see things differently and molds us to the asset framework.” She honored each faith group that participated in the program.

The training program is all about how churches, groups, organizations, and individuals can network together, recognize problem areas, and change the course of the future for the youth of today who are struggling.

Linda Henderson of IYI introduced Bill Stanczkiewicz, president and CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute. He made a passionate speech about what building blocks kids need the most to succeed.

Stanczkiewicz maintains that kids are “hardwired” to connect to family and community, as well as moral and spiritual truth. He said scientists have researched these things and have relayed to medical doctors that this is how the DNA of humans is made up.

Some research released by the IYI revealed that children in Indiana are more likely to have health insurance than other places in the country. He also noted that 10% of a child’s life happens in the classroom - 90% with family and community.

“Kids need what the faith-based community has to offer,” Stanczkiewicz told those gathered in Batesville. He reminded the church people who attended the event that they need to work together for the good of their kids. “Kids need love and support. They need hope. People need to work together. The kids need it!” he emphatically stated.

Data shared that evening from Kids County in Indiana can be found at

Stanczkiewicz gave some statistics saying the child poverty level in Indiana stands at 17.1%. The child poverty level in Ripley County is at 12.7%. As of 2009, children in Indiana who were receiving a free lunch at school were 33.2%. In Ripley County, that percentage was 21.5%. Reduced lunches in the schools of Indiana were a percentage of 8.6% in 2009 and 9% for Ripley County.

Other statistics revealed that the Jac-Cen-Del School District has the highest poverty level with the South Ripley district running a close second. South Ripley has the most single-parent families and the highest percentage of kids who are eligible for the free lunch program. Milan has the highest percentage of kids who are eligible for reduced lunches.

Some practice tips were given for adults to help kids have solid building blocks. They included:

• Help kids sign up for what they are eligible for.

• Work with local food banks to help provide needs.

• Church goers need to be mentors to students.

• Check out free resources that can help adults help children.

• Give kids hope by giving them love and support.

“We don’t have a kid problem; we have an adult problem. Adults are not giving what our kids need us,” Stanczkiewicz said. He concluded by saying kids need hope and “we need to work together.”