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The Good Samaritans of London - Kids Connection with Katelyn Garnaitis
CURRENT COMMUNITY STORIES
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Mark 10:13-16: And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”  And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.

The Kids Connection at Mosaic Church in London was started over a decade ago by Pastor David Cotterill to reach out to the children of recent immigrants to Canada. The program, run since the fall of 2015 by Katelyn Garnaitis with much help from volunteers in the church and in the local neighborhood, has evolved from an English as a Second Language/academic focus to more of a social training program.

“I’ve always enjoyed children,” says Garnaitis. “The program has recently been attracting children from generationally poor families rather than immigrant families. A lot of these children have a lack of a father figure in their lives, suffer from poverty, and have mental health diagnoses.”

The goal of the program is to help the children build positive relationships with themselves, with others, and with God. This often involves much emotional intelligence work, helping the children to recognize their emotions and to de-escalate, especially with authority figures.

“Sometimes success is making it through without a meltdown or an intervention. As we are also trying to develop a relationship with the children’s parents it is really helpful when the parents see their children become warmer and more willing to listen. The hope is that if they are not a part of a church family they will become a part of Mosaic.” While the children come from families that have been in Canada for several generations their backgrounds, especially church backgrounds, are quite varied. Many of the children are aware of demonic powers and are afraid of them. Many have access to Ouija boards and ask questions about God and demons. This often makes them more open to the teaching that Jesus is trustworthy, unlike the other powers they have experienced, than other children or adults may be.

Garnaitis and her husband, Nigel, who also volunteers with Kids Connection, dream someday of opening a family centre in the neighborhood that will help to bring healing from much of the emotional, physical, sexual, and neglect abuse that plagues some of the families.

“God wants to be active in our communities, and there is so much opportunity for God’s work to happen,” says Garnaitis. “Don’t be discouraged, there are lots of kids who are willing to listen.”

“Most of the Gospels took place outside of the temples. When we partner with Him outside of the churches He comes through in ways we wouldn’t expect.”

The Kids Connection meets at the portables at 910 Huron St on Mondays from 4 pm to 6:30 pm.