JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - City Youth Ministries in Jonesboro received a donation on Monday that will help many children in need.
Denise Snider, Executive Director of City Youth Ministries said an important visitor, the Arkansas Dyslexic Group stopped by.
"We are really blessed today at City Youth," Snider said. "The Arkansas Dyslexic Group gave us a donation of $1,300 to help provide and fund our Connections After School therapy lessons for our children."
Snider said she was thrilled to get the call about the donation.
"I was so humbled, it was really completely out of the blue and I was very humbled by it," Snider said. "I was also struck and thankful that the group realizes what we're doing here with children who may not necessarily have a voice in terms of getting the appropriate help. The help that these children need, this donation helps fund that and what they need costs money."
Snider said they pinch every penny donated to them.
"We are very frugal, we try to be very careful and be good stewards of all the donations that are given to us," Snider said. "But even that being said, it takes a lot of money to provide everything that we do offer for these children. And without the community and without sensitive philanthropic-minded people that think of City Youth we wouldn't be able to keep our doors open. And then, what would happen to these children who are thriving and doing so well in this after-school curriculum that the public actually funds and provides for them."
City Youth provides a lot of opportunities for children.
"We provide academic help," Snider said. "We're providing physical opportunities as well as fine arts opportunities. Not to mention spiritual peace which is our most important objective."
They also have four vans they use to provide transportation for children that need it.
And now, Snider says they want to spread the word they're offering dyslexia therapy.
"I am a certified dyslexic therapist and I became very passionate about becoming aware of the need for dyslexia therapy when I was in the regular classroom as a classroom teacher. Many time the characteristics of dyslexia can manifest themselves in so many different ways that if a teacher is not trained to be able to identify that indicator it can just exasperate into a huge mess," Snider said. "I became really passionate about identifying children who are dyslexic and providing them with a means that really works. There are a lot of literacy reading programs out there. A lot of them are good, but I've used so many different reading strategies and mandates for so many years being in the public schools. And I've just seen one really work, and it's connections. Connections work because the child is engaged. The child is touching, feeling, tasting and that makes a huge difference with anybody. It's the way that we teach here and the way we provide the literacy interventions. The style of what we're doing works for every child."
Snider said they have all the tools needed with City Youth.
"I can bring our children in here," Snider said. "We can identify them using the proper tools. We can identify those that have dyslexia indicators. And we can provide the therapy in this building during the hours that they are here. So that the parents who might not be able to afford it or might not have the transportation to go get the needed literacy interventions we can do it for them here for free."
Snider said parents and children alike want the help, but many can't afford it.
"Doing a dyslexic program with integrity and fidelity means twice a week many times," Snider said. "Most therapists charge $50 a session twice a week. That's hard for anyone. Another eye-opener is since dyslexia can be hereditary, not just one child in a family will have dyslexia. I do therapy with a family and all three children are dyslexic. So, private therapy can end up being a lot of money a month. A lot of the children who come to City Youth don't have that opportunity and the parents are asking for the help. The children are asking for the help. So, we are going to meet that need and do everything we can to help the children here so they can perform better in the public schools. Be better members of their classroom, participate better and help their test scores."
Snider said this is a big need in the Jonesboro community.
"The community of Jonesboro needs City Youth to be here," Snider said. "They also need it to thrive and continue to raise up children that are confident. That have a spiritual awareness that they know God loves them and that he created them with a purpose."
Snider said there is data from the Department of Education that shows 86% of the children that attend a high-quality after-school program thrive and perform better in the regular classroom.
City Youth Ministries has 118 children enrolled.
Around 40 children are attending the dyslexia therapy sessions.
Snider said they have a waiting list of children who want to come to City Youth Ministries, but 118 is all their current funding will allow.
If anyone is interested in learning more about the programs at City Youth or how you can make a donation, click here.
You can also call (870) 932-9398.