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Archive for the ‘Event’ Category

UALR-CI’s Own Arlene Williams, Finalist in This Year’s Governor’s Award

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Since 1978, KARK-TV, the Arkansas Department of Human Services Division of Volunteerism, and the Office of the Governor have recognized individuals and companies that serve others in extraordinary ways. This year, one of UALR-Children International’s own, Arlene Williams, has been nominated and is a finalist to be honored for her volunteer work with the Community Service Award.

Arlene’s involvement with Children International began years before she became an AmeriCorps member in 2011. It was through a young man she was tutoring that she first learned about the program and fell in love. Upon deciding to become a full-time AmeriCorps member, she believes it was a twist of fate that allowed her to be granted the full-time position she currently holds.

Though she has no children of her own, Arlene has always worked with children in various capacities throughout her lifetime. “I always tell people when you volunteer; you have to have a passion for what you do. If you don’t have a passion for it, you won’t like it,” she says. “Make sure your heart is in it and that you’re doing it for the right reasons.” In November 2012 she was awarded the Dr. J. C. Babbs award. An annual award that honors an outstanding AmeriCorps member, past or present, who exemplifies the goals and ideals of AmerCorps. “Just to get nominated by the Governor’s Office was outstanding in my eyes,” she beamed. She just learned she was a finalist and couldn’t be happier.

The recipients will be announced June 14th, 2013 at the annual ceremony to be televised by KARK-TV and presented by Duncan Law Firm. The broadcast highlights each winner’s contributions to the community. Members of the KARK Team will participate by telling the stories of some of the winners. Governor and Mrs. Beebe will also present featured awards.

For more information, visit: http://arkansasmatters.com/projects-csas


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UALR-Children International Honors 16 Youth with Our Annual Hope Scholarship

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Each year, UALR Children International awards 16 high school seniors with the Hope Scholarship.  Students are awarded a $500 each for their post-secondary education and were chosen for their dedication and service to the community and for their strong academic achievement.  The competition is tough every year as seniors must have been accepted into the college or university of their choice, submit essays and meet ACT and GPA requirements.

Raven is among this year’s recipients.  She is a bright student who not only possesses academic excellence, but a deep passion and determination for life.  An honor roll student, Raven has overcome overwhelming odds and come out on top of what would normally take others out.  Her passion for life led to her successful fight against stage three Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer of the lymph nodes.

Raven credits her family with helping her through and to stay focused during this tough time.  “I was so sick and couldn’t function like normal, but my family was always there making me happy and helping me get my mind off things,” said Raven.  “They prayed for me often and I think that’s why I’m so much better today.”

Raven will enter the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in the fall to pursue her degree in criminal justice.  Having grown up around police officers and a mother who was a volunteer parole officer, she’s always had an interest in the legal field.  “The staff at Children International is the best,” said Raven.  “They not only helped me, but they were careful to include and help my family too.”  She loves the summer programs at UALR-CI and advises others to take advantage of the many wonderful opportunities Children International has to offer.

Tamron, a fellow scholarship recipient, has been with Children International since the second grade.  She credits UALR-CI with giving her a firm foundation and countless volunteer opportunities she can take through life with her.  Tamron is a fighter who possesses a determination rarely found in someone her age.  No matter what circumstances where thrown at her, she has always come out on top.  That showed even in her school work.

Tamron has been accepted into Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA, a private, liberal arts college that educates women to “think deeply, live honorably and engage the intellectual and social challenges of their times.”

“My dedication and hard work won’t stop once I make the transition into college,” promised Tamron.  “It is my ultimate goal to make a difference in the lives of others, just as was done for me.  I know that attending college is my first step to making that dream my reality.”

We are certainly proud of our youth and the bright future that awaits them.  With the determination we’ve seen in them, there’s nothing they cannot accomplish.  This year’s award recipients will be recognized at the annual Family Fun Festival.

“On behalf of UALR Children International, we are honored to be able to award such talented and giving students with this scholarship,” said Susannah Beachboard, Youth Education Manager for UALR Children International.  “The winners embody what the Hope Scholarship is all about.”


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UALR-CI Youth Tutoring Program– Time Worth Celebrating!

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Today the 60 students who have been participating in UALR Children International’s (UALR-CI) Youth Tutoring Program will celebrate the end of the school year. While today they party in the park, all year long from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays they have been working hard on improving their grades, attitudes, and behavior. Studies show that children who fall behind in early years rarely catch up with their classmates. UALR-CI knows how important it is for children to have as much support as possible – physically, socially and academically. Our Youth Tutoring Program works hand in hand with parents seeking tutors for help with children who are struggling academically.

“When my son entered junior high for the first time, his grades really suffered,” said Keisha, who came to UALR-CI seeking tutoring for her son Roy. “Since he began tutoring, his grades have really improved. Even his attitude has changed and teachers are no longer calling the house with problems,” she said as she smiled with pride. “He’s even more mature and responsible with his younger siblings, I’m so proud of my son.”

At UALR-CI, we work hard with our children, implementing a wide array of resources to help supplement instruction at school. It’s been proven that children who are successful academically tend to have people who help keep them engaged and carefully monitor their progress. We sincerely believe it takes a village to help pull this off. “I love it, they are great!” said Shayla. “You can talk to them, even beyond tutoring they will go out of their way to help you.” Her son, Te’Von, has been in the CI family for years and we’ve had the pleasure of watching him grow. “I highly recommend the program. He’s grown socially and academically and I don’t have to worry about him running around in the streets or getting mixed up with the wrong crowd. I can tell they really care about him.”

Tina’s daughter also started the program at the urging of a family friend and fellow member of the program. “It’s so convenient and I can already see a difference in Alexis’s grades.” Both mom and child really enjoy the program and are grateful for the burdens it has helped lift from both their shoulders.

UALR-CI works in partnership with 16 UALR departments and 22 public and private agencies. Since 1994, more than 24,000 students have benefitted from the generosity of their individual sponsors. For more information on our programs, visit www.ualr.edu/children.


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Book Are In Bloom at UALR-CI This Springs

Friday, May 24th, 2013

Good reading habits are important to a child’s success, both at school and in life. Studies show that children who read well in early grades are more successful in later years of life. For the last eight years, UALR Children International (UALR-CI), in partnership with Scholastic, has worked to give books to all our sponsored children and youth in elementary and middle schools. Scholastic is the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books. They have long been a well-known pillar in educational systems preparing children for reading success. Thanks to this partnership, UALR-CI is able to provide its students with twice as many books as would otherwise be possible each year as we try to help each child grow his/her own home library.

During the first week of March inside our partner elementary schools, libraries filled with children waiting eagerly for their turn at the book cart. Selections included engaging, grade-leveled, age appropriate informational texts to aid in building core language arts skills while supporting the curriculum and Common Core Standards. After third grade, comprehension is very important for building good reading skills and study habits as children are no longer learning to read, they are reading to learn. At an age where reading can sometimes be a chore, children can explore new words to help develop the vocabulary needed to learn and comprehend, bolstering their success in school. Reading also helps open children up to a world of learning on a level that will keep them engaged. They can help take a child on a journey with the flip of a page and encourage bonding time as they read with family and friends. The many social and intellectual benefits children gain from reading endure for years.

At the partner schools, children were all smiles as they made their choices. Along with the books, they were given a chance to select a literacy-related activity item like a plush toy, puzzle, or reading lamp (depending on grade). Once satisfied with their selections, heart-felt thank you letters were written to their sponsors who helped make it all possible. The book fair continues at the UALR-CI Office through June. By developing great reading habits early on, UALR-CI is helping play a big part in setting the children up for a lifetime of success.


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UALR Children International Presents Terrific Tuesdays

Friday, March 29th, 2013

UALR-CI has officially launched Terrific Tuesdays, an after school program designed to reach students within the community ages 8-12. The community partnership with Bishop Leodis & Goldie Warren Community Development Center where Terrific Tuesdays are held, allows for learning beyond the books. Enrichment activities such as Sports, Art, Fit-Kids, Stepping and Dramatic Arts encourage students to express themselves as they are motivated to build self-confidence and higher esteem. The instructors of the program are caring and sensitive towards the students’ needs, grooming them academically, socially and developmentally.

“We like coming and we always have fun!” said a group of fifth graders as they enjoyed snacks provided through a special donation. AmeriCorps members manage to make learning fun by engaging students in competitive academic relay games. This allows them to blow off steam, exercise both physically and mentally while cheering their respective team to success. “The word is really getting out,” said Paula Rogers, the program’s coordinator. “We’re steadily growing with students from several area schools and especially surrounding the community center.” The program has already swelled to nearly 40 students by the close of its fourth Tuesday. In the heart of Greater Little Rock, the program’s doors are open every Tuesday from 3-6pm.

Students are provided a positive, safe environment in which to learn, make new friends, and explore avenues with the arts they wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to. Working parents are relieved from the worries of daily homework, studies and their child’s safety. A welcome addition to the area, Terrific Tuesdays are off to a great start and both children and parents alike couldn’t be happier.


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UALR CI Future Smiles Dental Clinic Celebrates National Children’s Dental Health Month

Monday, March 4th, 2013

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM). Now in its 63rd year, NCDHM’s focus is to raise awareness about the importance of oral health to both parents and children. This year’s slogan is “Get a Gold Medal Smile” and UALR CI’s Future Smiles Dental Clinic is doing its part in stressing the importance of developing good habits at an early age and helping children get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.

UALR CI’s Future Smiles Dental Clinic is spending the month outfitting even the tiniest of patients with dental sealants. Dental sealants are thin plastic coatings that are applied to the grooves on the chewing surface of the back teeth. Since most decay in children and teens occurs on these surfaces, the clinic is focusing on this procedure as a preventative measure to combat tooth decay. Future Smiles is Arkansas’ only elementary school-based dental clinic. The clinic has three chairs and is coordinated by UALR Children International in partnership with the Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the Little Rock School District, the Arkansas Department of Health, the Heart of Arkansas United Way and the UAMS School of Dental Hygiene. The clinic is staffed with a dentist, dental assistant, a clinic manager and Dental Hygiene students from the University of Arkansas Medial Sciences.

Future Smiles is a full service dental clinic and provides comprehensive dental care to children on Medicaid and those without insurance in the partner elementary schools. Because the clinic is located on school grounds, they have become a part of the children’s everyday lives. A regular trip to the dentist is no longer a scary ordeal, but a short visit with a familiar friend. Unlike with a traditional dental clinic, students here are excited when their turn comes to visit the dentist, which makes the work of instilling good oral care habits that much easier.


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Got Youth Conflict? UALR-CI Parents and Staff Learn How to Help

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

On Saturday February 9, parents, staff, students and volunteers of UALR CI participated in an anger management workshop facilitated by The Arkansas Community Dispute Resolution Centers, Inc. (ACDRC). Participants were provided detailed information about community-based conflict resolution and peer mediation in an effort to more effectively serve our youth.

The highly interactive workshop featured role-plays simulating situations aimed at enhancing skills needed to effectively manage anger and resolve conflict. Parents, staff, students and volunteers also had the opportunity to assess their current conflict resolution styles and learned more creative ways to listen, probe and infer more persuasively. “Youth typically resolve their disputes through aggressive verbal behavior and violent actions,” said Angelia Tolbert, the center’s Executive Director. “The goal of conflict resolution is to diffuse anger and resolve conflict more effectively”. Tolbert is dedicated to assisting Arkansas’ youth and those that work with them, in learning more about appropriate methods to resolve conflict.

Topics ranged from Conflict Management and Cooperative Problem Solving as well as Respect Activities and the proper responses for conflict. Participants learned how open-ended questions and respectively listening allows opportunities to learn root causes of emotional triggers for youth. When everyone works together to create a family environment of mutual respect, it provides a safe place for the youth to blossom, especially in programs that are more culturally diverse. The results can even be seen at home as some parents have reported positive changes in their children.

ACDRC teaches skills students can use to achieve personal goals, think independently and critically, to support positive outcomes, to promote safe environments and to foster greater productivity in their homes, schools and communities. There are more than 550 community dispute resolution centers across the United States. For more information about ACDRC visit them online at http://www.acdrc.net/.


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Growing Our Community

Monday, February 11th, 2013

On Monday, January 21, 2013, young leaders from UALR Children International’s Youth Council and the Central Little Rock Promise Neighborhood’s Promise Ambassadors joined forces to help “Grow Our Community” by participating in this year’s MLK Day of Service. Hosted by Oak Forest United Methodist Church, these 40 youth leaders along with members of UALR-CI staff spent their day uniting to give back to the local community. Dwayne, a youth in the Promise Ambassador’s program, opened the Day of Service with a fitting quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve.”

Pastor Rush Breshears of Oak Forest UMC headed the annual event, welcoming volunteers from UALR Children International, the Central Little Rock Promise Neighborhood, UALR School of Social Work, and Trinity United Methodist Church. “We’re so thankful that so many young people came out to help us with our efforts” said Pastor Breshears. “This is the largest turnout we’ve had since its inception”.

Kayla, a seventh grader at eStem Public Charter School enjoyed participating because it gave her an opportunity to be more active in the community. “I would encourage other youth to set their standards higher,” she said. “Always look beyond your local community for opportunities to serve.”

The volunteers were dispersed to several locations cleaning and beautifying offices and clinics inside and out. Along with the church’s grounds and those of UALR Children International and the Lion’s World Services for the Blind facility located just down the street, several health clinics with biblically befitting names also received some much needed attention.

The Oak Forest UMC’s eye clinic, Bart’s Place, is named after blind Bartimaeus who had his site restored by Jesus. The counseling center, Barnabas House, is named for one of Paul’s missionary partners who went out and spread the gospel. Barnabas means ‘the encourager’, which is exactly what volunteers from the UALR School of Social Work do for those who find refuge behind its doors. Shepherd’s Hope is the church’s medical and dental clinic formed in partnership with Fellowship Bible Church. The clinic offers medical and dental services to uninsured residents in the Midtown area of Little Rock.

The day was hugely successful and helped build a strong sense of community. “We’re so grateful to see so many young people come out and sacrifice their day off from school,” says Nancy of Oak Forest UMC. “We’ve never had this many youth come out to get involved.”

Everyone ended the day with an immense sense of accomplishment, collecting 70 bags of leaves and yard debris on the UALR-CI grounds alone. The youth closed out the four hour event at the offices of CI with lunch and some much needed refreshments. The event connected people from all age groups and walks of life and gave everyone involved a warm sense of community.

For more information about Oak Forest United Methodist Church visit them online at www.oakforestumc.com.


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From Bullied to Black Belt

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

Tony was a shy child, a bit overweight and often bullied by his peers. That was before Children International. It was through the classes offered as a part of UALR Children International’s after school program “Kids’ Club” that this shy child broke out of his shell and turned his life around. The program’s discipline, physical fitness, positive affirmations and confessions gave Tony just the spark he needed. Tony thrived under the tutelage of Master Anderson of Anderson’s Taekwondo and would often help lead the entire class. Going from beginner to black belt in two short years, it goes without saying the bullying soon stopped and friendships were formed as children began to know his name.

His self esteem skyrocketed. Soon, his weight dropped, his grades shot up and he became one of the most popular kids at school. Tony remained on the school’s honor roll the entire time he was in the program. “Children International has exposed not only Tony but the rest of my family to things we otherwise would not have been exposed to,” said Tony’s mom Sherry. “Because of his involvement in Children International’s Taekwondo program, Tony has traveled to places like Orlando, FL, Las Vegas, NV and Houston, TX with his family by his side in support.” Sherry is very proud of her son’s accomplishments and wishes she’d known about Kids Club when her older children were in school.

Sherry credits Children International for bringing Tony out of his shell and turning her son’s life around both socially and academically. “I don’t think the sponsors realize how much their gifts affect the lives of children and their families,” she added. “The coats at winter time, the backpacks full of school supplies to help start the school year and extra gifts at Christmas time, it helps lift the burden and really means so much to us.” She beamed. “I just can’t say enough about the program.”

Kids’ Club helped bring out the leader in Tony that has always been there, but might have never been discovered as he cowered under the pressures of bullies. “Tony is a natural leader,” said Kristin Koenigsfest, Education Manager for UALR Children International. “He took taekwondo very seriously and thrived under the program.”

The other students also see the leader in him, voting him CEO of Children International’s Mind Your Own Business Summer Program every year without fail. Though Tony has moved on to junior high school, he still finds time to return to his former elementary to give back and help out in the after school program every chance he gets.

Though he has developed an interest in basketball and other sports, he gives up anything that threatens his time with taekwondo. His mother smiles when she speaks of how his appointment at UALR Children International’s Future Smiles Dental Clinic based at his former elementary went hours past the appointed time because he had to stay and help out. She never worries when he’s there because she knows he’s in good hands.


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Secret Santa Visits UALR Children International

Friday, February 1st, 2013

The office of UALR Children International was brimming with holiday gifts and excitement for a few days in December as the first ever Secret Santa event went into full swing.  Grateful parents looked on as children ripped open their gifts while some decided to wait until Christmas morning.  Excited children with picture stamps, glitter and colored pencils crafted the masterpiece that became their “Thank You” cards for the local individuals and organizations who donated the toys and other items that made it all possible.

A team of CI Elves, staff and AmeriCorps volunteers worked tirelessly collecting, purchasing and wrapping gifts for the event.  Every detail was organized to ensure the event ran smoothly.  Hot chocolate, apple cider and other refreshments were on hand to add to the festivities.

Guests were greeted with “Happy Holidays!” that rang out of the mouth of CI babes who gladly volunteered their services to help give back to others.  “I’m surprised they’re doing this for our kids,” one grateful parent could be heard saying.  “My son was so excited when I told him he had a gift here waiting for him.”

Many families were not able to do as much as they would like for their children during the holidays.  For 100 children this year, Children International was there to help fill in the gaps and lessen some of the burden many families feel during the holidays.

The annual event solicits gifts and donations for children and youth who otherwise would not have received anything outside the normal programs and activities the sponsorship funds provide.  Thanks to all who helped us spread some holiday cheer and make this year’s Secret Santa event a huge success!


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Children International is an affiliate of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.