Run by a group of teenagers who met through a Cleveland church program, Neighborhood VBS classes are being held throughout Norwalk.
At League Elementary, 19-year-old Aaron Graham is in charge.
“It’s my first year as a leader,” said Graham, whose home church is Norwalk Baptist.
While the teen said holding the classes is awesome and fun, he admitted that coordinating the program wasn’t without stress.
“It’s awesome working with the kids, but making sure that every (volunteer) has a job to do, is doing their job and that nothing gets left out, has not been easy.”
Luckily, Graham has help in teens from other churches, such as Celina Baptist Temple, Norwalk and North Columbus Baptist.
Despite Baptists being the predominant denomination, the young coordinator said “you don’t have to be from our church to be here or any church” to attend VBS.
“We’re not forcing anyone to accept what we believe . . . Ultimately, we’re just trying to spread the word about Jesus Christ.”
Another volunteer who is passionate about the message is North Columbus Baptist Church volunteer Nikki Simpson.
“I love working with kids — it’s my favorite,” said the fourth-year participant in the SMITE program (Summer Missionary Internship for Teenage Evangelism).
Some of the Neighborhood program’s activities include going on walks, hearing Bible stories, playing field games, such as kickball, and even meeting a dinosaur. Volunteer Jordan Harinharine visited the students while wearing a tyrannosaurus rex costume.
Two non-teenagers in attendance were parents Autumn Meyer and Peggy Hartman.
“They go around and knock on doors, looking for kids to come to the program,” said Meyer, whose two sons were participating.
“It’s really exciting for us (to see), because it gives insight on teenagers learning how to teach kids,” Hartman said. “It gives them confidence.”
“(You can tell) getting kids to come here is important to them. … They even have an evening program that people can come to, where they set up a big tent,” Meyer said.
“It’s a great program and it’s been an awesome and there’s been (such) a great turnout,” added Hartman, whose 18-year-old son Clayton is a volunteer.
Though the Neighborhood VBS doesn’t end until Friday, Graham said that the most rewarding part for him, so far, has been “seeing kids who were nervous when they first got here, start smiling after we start singing songs.”
“It’s just so great,” Graham gushed.
Neighborhood VBS is from 1 to 3 p.m.,and classes are held in Norwalk, at Maplehurst and Pleasant elementary schools and in Willard, Wakeman, Bellevue, and Monroeville. For more information, contact the Norwalk Baptist Church on its website, https://norwalkbc.com, or call 419-668-4629.