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Youngwood church continues after-school program

| Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, 10:15 p.m.
For The Mt. Pleasant Journal
Pictured at the after-school program at Christ United Methodist Church in Youngwood on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, are (first row, from left) Alex Wuelsh , 6, of Greensburg; Laura Stanish, 6, of Youngwood; Dylan Pape, 6, of Youngwood; and Thomas Stoves, 7, of New Stanton; (second row) Madison Ritenour, 7; Abby Blahovec, 8; and Cydney Blahovec, 8, all of Youngwood; (third row) Reghan Dahl, 9, of Greensburg; Wyatt Bumbaugh, 8, of Youngwood; Nicholas Trout, 7, of Hunker; Tyson Gregory, 8, of Greensburg; and Anthony Trout, 7, of Hunker; (fourth row) the Rev. Ed Bailey, the church's pastor, of Greensburg; Keri Olson, 10, of Youngwood; Mason Baughman, 10, of Youngwood; Cody Trout, 10, of Hunker; and program aide Dylan Warrington, 12, of Youngwood.
Mt. Pleasant Journal
A Thanksgiving dinner was prepared for the children attending the after-school program at Christ United Methodist Church in Youngwood as Mason Baughman, 10, of Youngwood bows his head in prayer on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012. Barbara Denning | For The Mt. Pleasant Journal

King's Force, otherwise known as “K Force,” is a weekly, after-school program for children in kindergarten through fifth grade run by a group of dedicated members from Christ United Methodist Church in Youngwood.

The program is held at the church on Lincoln Street in the borough every Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

“It's a chance for the kids to socialize, have dinner and learn about God's lessons,” said Susan Murphy of Hunker, the program's director and the church's assistant to the pastor.

As children arrive, they can choose from several activities such as basketball, heading to a quiet area to complete homework, or spending time in the board game center.

A family style dinner is served around 5:30 p.m.

“The children set their places and tables,” Murphy said, “We concentrate on manners and saying grace.”

Following dinner is lesson time with a rotating schedule of activities which include library, art and music.

Often the evening, including meal and activities, centers around a theme such as “Western Night” or a “Patriotism Night.”

A reward ticket system is used in which the children are given tickets for actions such as random acts of kindness or knowing Bible verses, Murphy said.

Tickets can then be redeemed at a “store” that sells small toys.

“It's so important to reach out to the community and the kids and it's very satisfying that they're responding to us,” said Sharon Young of Youngwood, a program volunteer. “The kids really like it. It's something that's constant for them. There's no pressure or competition.”

In its fourth year, the program has had as few as six and as many as 30 members at one time.

Currently, around 15 children are participating in the program, which runs from October to March.

Any child is welcome to attend, regardless of religious affiliation, and they may begin the program at any time, Murphy said.

The idea behind K Force is the have the kids participating ‘graduate' to the church's youth group – ‘G Force,' or God's Force, which is for youth in grades six through 12.

The cost to participate is $2 per child weekly. Scholarship money is available to those who qualify.

“I'm very happy with what we're doing,” said Judy Barron of Greensburg, a church member and K Force teacher, “We have fun, food and a faith-filled evening.”

Cami DiBattista is a freelance writer.