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Creating a Refuge for Kids

Jun, 2024 | ARK, Children's Ministry

In the state of Colorado, it is estimated that 5% or 60,000 children have had a parent in prison at some point. Having a parent in prison affects each of these children in a different way, but the impact this has on their lives is immense. Some of the most notable effects are shame and the social stigma that comes with having a parent in prison. It can cause attachment disorders, anger, fear, and other negative ramifications in a child’s life.

At New Horizons, we have seen a significant need for people to step into these children’s lives and show them the love of Jesus. This led to the formation of our newest program, ARK (A Refuge for Kids).

ARK is a program of the Children’s Ministries division, and its name describes its purpose – to provide refuge for children who have or had a parent in prison. Like the ark was a safe place for Noah, we want to be a safe place for kids who have faced the many challenges that comes with having a parent in prison. We aim to help them discover God’s love and support them through their struggles because we believe as Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.”

The first event that was held with this goal in mind, was a Christmas party in 2021, where children were given gifts at the request of their parent in prison. The Christmas party has become an annual event, as well as other events for children and their caregivers throughout the year. In 2023, we began a kids club twice a month to give consistent, meaningful input into the lives of children who have a parent in prison. At each of these events, children have the opportunity to connect with adults who want to show them the love of Jesus and be a positive role model in their lives.

This year marks a significant milestone for ARK with the introduction of a summer camp for children ages eight to twelve. The camp, located in Divide, Colorado, provides a central location for children from Denver, Colorado Springs, Pueblo, and other towns along the front range. The girls’ camp will run from July 1-5, followed by the boys’ camp from August 5-9.

We plan to host twenty to thirty children at each camp, where we will offer many activities including climbing walls, zip lines, swimming, crafts, archery, and a ropes course. Each day will feature a different learning theme, chapel time, and group sessions to foster a deeper understanding of God and connection with others. Each child will have the opportunity to connect with other children as well as counselors and support staff who want to show them the love of Jesus.

We care deeply about the safety and wellbeing of each child, so all of the staff at the camp have passed background checks and received training in sexual abuse awareness, TBRI (Trust-Based Relational Intervention), and child neglect awareness.

As we prepare for this year’s summer camps, we are excited about the opportunity to make a lasting impact on the lives of children affected by incarceration. These camps are just one part of ARK’s mission to provide a safe and nurturing environment where kids can experience fun activities, form meaningful connections, and learn about God’s love.

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