At the end of summer Kids in Motion (KIM) celebration Friday, Aug. 2, three former KIM participants and one current one shared emotional stories of how much this pre-employment summer program helped them turn their lives around.
The first was Sean Hellems, a sophomore at Hannibal-LaGrange University, who plans to continue his education at a seminary. In addition to speaking, he sang a solo.
Amy Vaughn, KIM program director with the sponsoring Douglass Community Services, read a letter from Paul Davis, a former Kim "kid of the year," who is now a Hollywood actor. Davis said he has acted in commercials and short films. He encouraged the KIM kids to never give up their dreams.
Encouraging letters from former KIM kid and current KIM supervisor Destiny Roth Loutzenhiser and current KIM kid Aajalee Raspberry also were read during the celebration, which was at the First Presbyterian Church in Hannibal.
"It was an amazing summer," Vaughn said before the celebration. "I really feel like the kids learned a lot. We saw a great deal of improvement in a number of our past KIM kids."
Vaughn noted that the Presbyterian Church "has been wonderful, and helped us with our breakfast and lunch meals. Matt Vermeer, the youth minister there, helped us with team-building activities, and each of the KIM groups got to prepare a meal. They cooked for the other kids, and Matt helped with that."
Several awards were presented Friday night. The two KIM kids of the year were Daisha Fernando and Aajalee Raspberry.
Each of the six KIM groups selected two winners, hardest worker and best attitude.
The hardest worker awards went to Daisha Fernando, Raymond Ferriera, Peyton Jones, Del Witthouse, Preston Hall and Donnie Reeves.
The best attitude awards went to Daisha Fernando, Donterrias Raymond, Kathleen Largent, Laura Smith, Sierra Williams and Nici Morrell.
Youth mentors who were recognized as peer leaders in their groups were Ajalee Raspberry, Jaiyden French, Mercadees Widebrook and Lorasia Ecford.
Vaughn added that "as a special project, Barbara Brown, a Girl Scout leader, helped the kids write mission statements for their life - things they wanted to accomplish or have said about them at their 70th birthday party."
Some of the mission statement goals the KIM kids listed were: "Fly in a plane, go to college, make Kids in Motion available everywhere, become a veterinarian, I want to be happy, help as many people as I can, make a difference in someone's life, I promise to forgive those who have hurt me, learn from my mistakes, and I want to be an underwater welder."
Additional goals were: "Have five kids, I want to be a dance teacher, I want people to see me as a loving, thankful, respectful, honest, likeable and responsible person, I would like to get married, don't get in fights, I will be a CSI or FBI agent, go to church more, help kids, help my family, be a super fun lovable old lady that plays video games, be a success, being nice and kind and not making the wrong choices, be a music teacher, I want to be an inspiration to people, be nice to my cousin, build a camp for teens and become a lawyer."
Page 2 of 2 - More goals were: "Always accomplish my dreams, I want to be someone who tries her best, I want to be known as a hard worker, I want to be remembered by my kindness, I want to become a Secret Service agent, I want to be a translator, become a Navy Seal, I want to be healthy, I want to be remembered for being grateful, gentle and different, I want to be a football star, I want to find a cure for cancer and I want to be known as a 'giver.'"
Another special event this summer was a visit from Secret Service agent Todd Perry of Washington, D.C., who challenged the kids to go after what they want in life, Vaughn said. "Todd wrote an essay in the eighth grade about how he wanted to be in the Secret Service and he followed that goal ... despite set-backs and failures along the way."
KIM kids will
continue to serve
Although their two-month summer program has ended, the current KIM kids will continue to volunteer for projects during the next few months, according to Vaughn. They plan to help organize clothes for a Back To School Fair next week, fill Buddy Packs monthly and on an ongoing basis for needy families in the Hannibal School District, attend a Baby sitter Training and Certification through the American Red Cross on October 4, help with General Mills' Employee Company Store Sale and shop and wrap gifts for a Holiday Hope Family at Christmas.