The Buckner Family Hope Center is a place families can go to find hope, support and empowerment for the whole family, including the children. Just as the adult programs are designed to meet the family’s needs exactly where they are, the children programs cater around their interests and work to help children reach their fullest God-given potential.
The Family Hope Center at Reed Road in Houston adapted this model this summer when they focused on the arts for their summer programs.
“We noticed that our kids are very interested in art, so we’re really trying to show them how they can use arts in their life,” said Tori Christensen, children's program supervisor. “Art is so engaging, and it can pretty much encompass anything.”
The Family Hope Center collaborated with Young Audiences of Houston, who sent in different artists and worked with the children on different projects.
This summer the children have worked with screen painting, clay, dancing, theater, painting, musical expression, sewing and so much more.
“During entrepreneur week, we talked to them about making a career from the arts,” Tori said. “A lot of our students love art and they’re fantastic at it. Young Audiences of Houston are all professional artists and make money doing it so they talked with the kids on how to monetize the arts.”
And through the arts, the children learned other skills like fractions, typing, primary colors, and story sequencing.
“Our biggest goal is exposing them to as much as we can. We want to introduce them to as many professionals that can relate to them so they can understand that they can break the chain of poverty. We want them to see they can do it too” Tori said.
Discovering talents and opportunities is one of the main goals of the Family Hope Center and staff at the Family Hope Center at Aldine use that to help teens learn about business.
The summer programs start with basics of customer service. There is a coffee bar at the center that students use and practice providing a service. They don’t exchange money, but they greet the customer, make the coffee and learn how to be great employees.
They then move to other aspects of business including how to pitch an idea, marketing and promotion of their product or event.
They start by pitching their ideas to banking executives in their own version of “Shark Tank.” Woodforest National Bank collaborates with the Family Hope Center and works with the teens about marketing, demographics and how to pitch an idea.
“It’s always neat to see where their brains go,” said Jade Paredez, teen program coordinator. “They’re given no restraint and they can come up with whatever product they want to pitch. I really enjoy seeing that creative process work out in them.”
Then all the students worked together to put together an event that they are responsible for. This year, they decided to put together a carnival. They brainstormed on what activities they wanted to include, delegated projects to each other, bought supplies and executed their plans.
“On top of them building their self-esteem and self-confidence, I think it also helps them understand how important it is to build relationships and use teamwork,” Jade said. “And they start to realize the more effort they put in, the better the result is.”
Any profit they made from the carnival, after paying back their expenses, they got to keep.
“The key point I’d like to stress with the money is that it’s actually for them to take back to their families to help them buy new school supplies or new clothes,” Jade said. “A lot of times, that is their immediate thought to help out their family.”
These are just a few ways the Family Hope Center is helping children and teens realize their goals and teaching them the skills to achieve them.