Catching and keeping kids’ interest on any given Sunday | NevadaAppeal.com

Catching and keeping kids’ interest on any given Sunday

Rhonda Costa-Landers
Appeal Staff Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Gabe Gonzalez is excited about the new indoor skate park he is building for the Connected church on Mallory Way. The skate is park is part of an expanded youth program, including a video area, crafts area and refreshments, in order to get the Word of God out to younger kids.
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Connected is a church that reaches out to people of all walks of life.

It already has a strong base of single men and young adults. Now, it’s focusing on getting the Word of God to more children.

“We want more kids,” said the Rev. Steve Pollard. “We didn’t have stuff in here for the kids. Our goal is to have stuff for them.”

To this end, Pollard and Steve Scott are on a roll.

“This is Steve’s (Scott) dream, his idea” said Pollard. “He’s in charge of children’s ministry.”

The large room that will become Kids World has taken shape over five areas. The center boasts a large tree with a hollow base. In the trunk are four televisions with video and XBox connections for viewing Christian videos and playing G-rated games.

The tree’s branches reach to the ceiling and a fort on top. A classroom branch is to the right with another area at the top resembling a fort.

The arts and crafts area has three picnic tables and a colorful aquatic mural on adjoining walls. Coney Island is a refreshment stand resembling a Polynesian hut.

In the playground area, large plastic play equipment will be assembled. The entry is the territory of Samson, the pet turtle.

“We’ve been working on it about three months now,” Scott said.

“Steve (Pollard) wanted to do this about a year ago then someone gave the church some money, and he wondered if I’d do it. So here we are.”

In a running joke, the time frame for completion is two weeks.

“We always say two weeks,” Scott said. “We’re about 21Ú2 weeks away from being done. We always were, then something comes up, then something else comes up.

“This weekend the playground equipment is going in, then we’ll finish the classroom areas. All in all, about two weeks.”

Scott and his wife, Patty, are the children’s ministry leaders and have been with the church about 11Ú2 years.

Their programs are based on Child Evangelism Fellowship.

“It’s called the ‘Good News Club,’ Scott said. “We meet three to four days a week in an after-school program. It will probably be from 2:30-5 p.m. We’ll do crafts, play in the tree, on the playground, XBox and have a few lessons on God.”

Scott said they will focus on letting the kids know God loves them.

“He’s not a punisher, but one who loves them, and we will show them what He does. That’s our focus – to build a relationship with the kids and make this a safe place for them to hang out. There’s not enough positive things in the community for the kids. Every little thing helps.”

The age group the Scotts are working with is 5 through 12. Depending on the turnout, the children may be split into groups.

Gabe Gonzalez of Connected knows his children’s area will be full. In addition to Kids World, the expansive area will include an indoor skatepark.

A skateboarder himself, Gonzalez, 20, said, “Mills Park is OK, but it’s not the best environment for kids. There’s no supervision. This area is for the teens and adults. Our goal is to reach out to them – the kids with skateboards, bikes and roller blades.”

Gonzalez, who moved to Carson City about a year ago from Philadelphia, admits he has never built a skatepark. But he’s getting plenty of input and help from the kids.

“I’ve had about eight kids a week helping out, just by word on the street,” he said. “The word is spreading. It’s pretty cool.”

“The Asylum” skatepark has ramps, mini-ramps, ledges, half-pipe and rails.

“We call it that because it’s a place for kids to get away from the world – a safe place,” Gonzalez said. “They can get away from their problems and just hang out. It’s a safe place for them.”

Gonzalez expects the park to be done in two to four weeks. Operation days and hours are yet to be determined, but he figures Wednesday through Saturday.

“We will also take a time out, about 15-20 minutes, to share the Word of God with the kids. They can stay if they like. If they don’t want to, that’s OK. That’s what this ministry is about – acceptance.”

“We strive on hope,” Pollard said. “We tell everyone we can give them hope. My message is not of guilt, but hope. That’s why we do this.”

— Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at rcosta-landers@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1223.