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What would America look like, if we were a nation without Faith?

Faith in Opportunity: Lockland, Ohio

Representative Brad Wenstrup (OH-2)

In Lockland, Ohio, 82 percent of students live in poverty, and the median family income is the lowest in the Greater Cincinnati area. During the summer months when school is out of session, daytime supervision, meals, and educational opportunities for children are in short supply (and sadly drug dealers are not). In 2010, a local Presbyterian church, with the help of the local community and other Presbyterian churches, organized a ten-week free summer program for the children who live in Lockland and surrounding communities. This program offers free classes in Reading, Writing, Math, Character Education, Art, Nutrition, and Physical Fitness; a free breakfast and lunch; field trips; and, perhaps most importantly, a safe learning environment where children have the opportunity to grow as people of faith and make the most of their God-given talents. The children range in age from age three through age 18.

During the seven years, the program has grown, now reaching 150 children and youth. Each summer, the church has expanded and deepened the enrichment opportunities: parents and guardians have shared how it has encouraged educational excellence and a compassionate, caring spirit. Parents have also shared that it has kept their children away from the drug dealers who prey on needy children and youth. The program has also grown in diversity: in the summer of 2016, African, African American, Hispanic, and Caucasian children and youth "broke bread," studied, and played together. This program would not be possible without the Presbyterian church space and the faith of the leaders of the program who believe so strongly in their students.