Building Blocks In Washington

Legos are the blocks for building relationships and mentoring junior high boys for Chuck Henager, a member of Family of Faith Christian Reformed Church in Kennewick, Wash. Each week a group of six boys, helped by Henager and Paul Scharold, another church member, constructs a 400-piece Lego set from pictorial directions, builds a Lego robot, or uses computers to rotate their robots. These boys are Karen refugees who left Myanmar, formerly called Burma, and settled in Kennewick. Henager leads the Lego club at the Family Learning Center, a ministry center started by members of Family of Faith CRC.

“I love to do things with these kids,” said Henager. “I find it very fulfilling and stimulating to be with them and help them have fun with some of the opportunities our own children had.”

Theresa Roosendaal, head of the Family Learning Center, is always looking for ways the children can develop their creative and academic skills. “We thought it would be a natural fit to combine the kids’ love for Legos with Lego robotics,” said Roosendaal. “It’s engaging and it’s a good STEM (science, engineering, technology, math) activity.”

Recently they learned about rotations and angles for making their robots turn and move. The boys had to practice their long division in order to program their robots. “Really, at this point, it is just being together and having fun,” said Henager. “They would want the robots to fight if they had a choice.”

The supplies for the Lego Club were funded by a Sea to Sea grant provided by the Christian Reformed Foundation to local churches with programs that help alleviate poverty. “We’re very grateful,” said Roosendaal, “for the Sea to Sea funding. A program like this isn’t cheap.”

Roosendaal would like to start a similar club for older kids open to other refugee children from Somalia or Iraq who also visit the learning center.

About the Author

Amy Toornstra is a freelance news correspondent for The Banner. She lives in Salem, Oregon.

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