Program encourages local youth to ‘Stand in the Gap’

Published 5:50 pm Tuesday, June 20, 2017

We all know the struggle of trying to fit in during middle school, but today’s kids face more peer pressure than most of us will ever know. Thanks to We S.I.N.G. (Stand in the Gap), kids no longer have to face the struggle alone, though.

We S.I.N.G. is a program for elementary through middle-aged children developed by Johnny Payne, chief executive officer of the program, to encourage them to make wise decisions and positively move obstacles out of the way.

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Middle schoolers gathered at the Friendship House of Jesus Tuesday morning to participate in the program.

Payne’s program is in its first year. The idea behind the program is to have two sets of programs that last three days each and run from 8:30-11:30 a.m. Payne has worked with children for the last 30 years and saw that peer pressure, self control and positivity were three of the main issues they faced. With that in mind, Payne decided to form and frame a program with music, videos and games to help overcome this.

One of the things Payne had the children do was fill in the blank behind “I am…” with a positive word. Most of the children had a difficult time coming up with something or avoided the microphone while it was being passed around.

When asked can you think of something negative to put behind “I am…” nearly every kid was ready to speak into the microphone.

Payne said, “Houston, we have a problem.” He wanted them to know that they shouldn’t focus on their negative qualities, but instead the positive, good attributes they have to offer.

Payne works with children from Decatur County as well as Thomas County and hopes to continue teaching children of all ages how thoughts have power, but they can learn how to be positive and make good decisions.