afterschool programurban youth development

A Million Little Steps: Stories from the 2015-16 school year









“The journey to healthy adulthood is made up of a million little steps.” It’s easy to be moved by stories of dramatic changes and transformations that people make. But most deep and significant changes happen slowly, over a long period of time, especially for students who are battling the most obstacles.

Looking back over the school year, we saw changes in many of our students that at a quick glance, may not look like change at all. But these changes represent a step, a shift that in ten years may become a turning point: They made a wise decision. Opened up to an adult. Reached out for help. Started a new habit. Made a friend. Tried something new. Asked a question. Or just took part in something positive they wouldn’t normally have done.


We are humbled to share these “micro-stories” – tiny steps for our kids – that are worth celebrating together:

Nick*, a middle school boy, changed from a negative attitude to a positive attitude this year. He asked for a Bible and wants to meet in a leadership group this summer.

Hannah*, a GirlPower girl, opened up to the group about being bullied and how it made her feel. It led many girls to share about their own struggles at home and school, and support and encourage each other.

Travis, a mentoring student now in high school, is getting ready for his first summer job.

Myranda and Madyson, twin sisters, finished 7 consecutive years at the STARS Afterschool Program (K-6). They are determined to come back and volunteer next year.

Michael*, a 2nd grader, was being very defiant during homework time at STARS, so a leader took him aside and asked him if something was wrong. He began to cry and talk about things happening in his family that he was sad about. He took the important step of confiding in an adult.

TJ* and Steven*, two Manpower guys, were about to get into a fight, but they figured out a way to resolve their issue without fighting.

Danni* and Taylor*, two GirlPower girls both with a disability, developed a strong friendship and started to realize God’s truth about them and that they could feel confident and loved. Danni said, “People make fun of me sometimes, but that’s not who I am.”

D.J. and Katelynn, GirlPower girls, didn’t think they could ever run the GirlPower 5K. But they did!

Let’s celebrate the steps that these and so many more students took this year, many of them much harder than we know and many of them much more important than we may realize. We praise God for the transforming work He’s up to in Springfield!

*Names changed

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