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Partnership benefits campus, special education students

Once a week, campus students from the seventh period Bible and choir classes go to Break the Barriers (BTB) to help kids that attend the programs. The students aid children with special needs to do certain planned activities such as dancing, gymnastics and taekwondo. The Bible class goes to Break the Barriers on Tuesdays, and the choir class goes on Thursdays. Both groups leave during lunch.

Principal Todd Bennett is pleased with the program so far. He believes that it benefits both BTB and FC.

“One of the good things about this project is that we are providing service to disabled kids from public schools and give them an exercise buddy,” Bennett said. “The service aspect is really positive. What’s really good for the kids here is the same thing that is great at Break the Barriers; we all have abilities and that the differences between us are not as great as it seems at first. We all have common emotions and dreams. We are very similar in most ways.”

According to Bennett, the only real problem with the project is the lack of communication regarding the number of students needed. Sometimes there is a mismatched number of people.

“The one thing that we need to work on is that we need to know how many kids are coming from the public school each time, specifically,” Bennett said. “We don’t want to send a bunch of kids over and leave them with nothing to do. For example, one group only has four or five kids from the other school district, and if we send 12 students, then most of them are just standing around.”

Bible teacher Robert Foshee explains that the leaders of both organizations decided that it would be beneficial for students to go to Break the Barriers and connect with the kids there.

“Mrs. [Debbie] Siebert and Deby Hergenrader, the director of Break the Barriers, got together and were talking about how we could connect as two different groups,” Foshee said. “One of the ways they came up with was to allow the students to get involved in the Break the Barriers ministry. Our students can help the kids there and learn in the process.”

Hergenrader decided to have the teachers match up the people on both sides. She thinks that the program has been going well and that the students from the Clovis schools are starting to become more confident.

“We started this program around mid-December,” Hergenrader said. “The special ed[ucation]. classes come from some of the Clovis schools to meet with the students from Fresno Christian. I let the teachers match the children because they knew who needed a specific type of person in their lives. It has been working out great, just watching some of the kids get less shy and get to know everyone. The teachers of the special education classes say that the program is really important to the kids; they need a good friend or mentor.”

Hergenrader realized that students from private schools do not often have this opportunity, so it is a good idea to give students a chance to interact with more people.

“Mrs. [Debbie] Siebert and I realized that in private schools there is not a lot of opportunity for students to connect with children who might have a special need of any kind due to a lack of special education classes on campus,” Hergenrader said. “It gives students an opportunity to use their knowledge and skills to reach out to others. I think this is an excellent program for both groups.”

Foshee thinks that the project is good because of the ministry that the groups provide each other. He believes that God works through this program to help both sides.

“We just need kids to go over there and step out of their comfort zones and see how they can minister and how God uses them,” Foshee said. “The kids there also help minister to the students here; they have such good attitudes and they have fun. It’s kind of a way to show how God works in different areas of life.”

Nick Fontes, ’15, enjoys helping out the kids at BTB. He agrees that there are some issues with the system that need to be resolved, though.

“I like going to Break the Barriers because it’s a good experience to help out these kids,” Fontes said. “It’s good to give back to the community, also. Sometimes we get there and there’s too many or too few people from Fresno Christian, though.”

Another part of FC’s relationship with BTB is the
Tim Tebow fundraiser in the spring. Tebow will come to raise money for both organizations. The fundraiser will be on Apr. 5, in the Exhibit
at the Convention Center downtown. Each plate will cost $150. For more information on purchasing tickets, contact Debbie Siebert at 559.299.1695.

For more features, read the Feb. 5 article, Freshmen transition to high school, experience changes.

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