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Diane Nemitz - Daily News Staff Writer
Friday, September 12, 2008
By DIANE NEMITZ
Daily News Staff Writer
Some children become estranged from a mother or father when the parents divorce or separate. Some lose a parent through death. Some children go to foster homes or to live with relatives when there are family problems. Kashley Shaffer, a senior at Ludington High School, has gone through all of these situations, and has learned to get through them with the help of Confident Kids.
Confident Kids is a Christian-based program for children ages five and up who are coping with the stress of divorce, death, or any situation in which they lose or become separated from a parent. Fran Behairy and Gail Childs are the co-leaders locally.
Soon after her parents separated, Shaffer began meeting with a group Childs had in her home. At that time, the group was called “the girls club” because it wasn’t yet affiliated with the Confident Kids national program. After Shaffer’s parents separated, her mother died and she moved out of the area. She later returned to Ludington and now lives with her sister.
She said the program “made me understand I had someone to talk to. It’s good to know there’s other kids like you.”
“Kashley’s one of our prodigies,” said Behairy. “She’s a wonderful role model.”
Shaffer is one of two teen helpers at the weekly meetings. She helps the children with skits, crafts and learning short Bible verses. “It helped us,” she said, “so we want to help them. It’s probably easier to hear about things from us.”
“This program is so important,” said Behairy. “Parents think their kids are OK, but they’re not OK.”
Confident Kids helps children with anger management, teaches life skills and makes it clear the parents’ problems are not their fault. They are not allowed to talk about their parents during the meetings, but instead talk about their feelings, what happened at school and are encouraged to tell what good things have happened to them during the week.
“At first I figured it would be like school, you’d just sit and listen, but it’s not like that. It’s fun. We have games, skits, it’s not structured, no notebooks,” said Shaffer.
Although the program is Christian based and meets at Cornerstone Baptist Church, children do not have to belong to any particular church. The group meets every Monday evening from 6:30 to 8 for 12 weeks.
The program can be repeated, as it is different each time. Currently there are about 12 in the group.
During the past eight years more than 100 kids have gone through the program, with varying degrees of success.
Those who have stuck with it have done better in school, with relationships and some have come back to help the younger children.
Confident Kids is a national program that has been around for 20 years. It has been in Mason County for the last eight years. Behairy said the children are often surprised to learn she and Childs are volunteers, not paid professionals. Both have full-time jobs but think the program is so important they continue to give their time and energy to helping children every week. “We love them and want to make a difference.”
A new series begins Sept. 22 at 6:30 p.m. at Cornerstone Baptist Church. Parents are welcome to bring their children to the first meeting to see what it’s like. Questions about Confident Kids can be directed to Behairy, 843-1666 or Childs, 690-0295.
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