Category Archives: after-school programs

Teaching and Mentoring Kids from Toxic Homes & Circumstances… The children who come to school scared…

Jayla studies on a computer at the shelter where she lives in Los Angeles, California February 9, 2011. School on Wheels uses volunteers to tutor homeless children in shelters, parks, motels, and two centers. There has been a surge in the number of homeless children in Los Angeles in the last five years, due to persistent unemployment and mounting foreclosures. Picture taken February 9, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY EDUCATION) - RTR2JZUO

Jayla studies on a computer at the shelter where she lives in Los Angeles, California February 9, 2011. School on Wheels uses volunteers to tutor homeless children in shelters, parks, motels, and two centers. There has been a surge in the number of homeless children in Los Angeles in the last five years, due to persistent unemployment and mounting foreclosures. Picture taken February 9, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES – Tags: SOCIETY EDUCATION) – RTR2JZUO

Teaching Kids from Toxic Homes…The Atlantic

The Limitations of Teaching ‘Grit’ in the Classroom

“We are asking students to change a belief system without changing the situation around them.” by



Saving your children, family, and loved ones from inter-generation Post Traumatic Stress (PTS)… A non-fiction guide written by a trauma survivor for parents, teachers, and mentors…click the highlighted text for my author page…

This article from the Atlantic comes at a time when there appears to be more knowledge and awareness in the educational sector of how children from toxic circumstances, including homelessness, need additional help in the classroom.  How can you teach kids who are scared, hungry, and distracted by an often traumatic life style during out-of-school time at home, in a shelter, or at play?  As a survivor from a severely dysfunctional and traumatic childhood, I didn’t know until starting my own research 5 years ago, including becoming acutely aware of “trauma informed teaching” reference from  My latest e-book, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 2, was written to show parents and teachers how trauma circumstances at home cause children to take on the same post trauma stress symptoms as experienced in the home environment, where most of the day and night, including weekends hours are spent observing toxic behaviors by adults.  Kids in these home circumstances are scared, lonely, often silent, and sometimes angry and defensive…in other words, they “act-out!”  When teachers understand clearly the roots of the challenging behaviors, they discover loving ways and skills to help distracted students become more effectively engaged in the mindful and positive culture of school away from home.

So manly books and references are clinical in nature that it becomes difficult for a lay person to relate to the world of a trauma victim, especially children, who are mostly silent and have no voice that can be heard.  You have to take them gently and lovingly by the hand and show kindness and caring…  Help these non-typical kids to trust and show them that the world is a better place…there is love and hope.  Check out my book by clicking the highlighted text below for my author page…read the excerpt from the following book review published by Michele Rosenthal, Heal My PTSD…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2…click on the highlighted text for my author page and to order books…


Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate & Vice Chair,


Children’s Trust of MA is a Gift for Children & Families…Protect & Preserve the Journey of Childhood…


The Gift of a Smile from your Child…

about the children’s trust

The Children’s Trust is Massachusetts’ leading family support organization. We strengthen the Commonwealth by funding and managing parenting support programs designed to help families raise physically and emotionally healthy children.

With support from the Children’s Trust, young children across Massachusetts can grow up in nurturing families and communities, healthy and ready to succeed.


I signed up to receive daily Twitter messages on my smartphone from in 2011 when my first book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, was published by Signalman Publishing.  It was at this time that my life changed forever.  My own journey of healing in life after trauma kicked in like no other time in my life!

Since then, the daily Tweets, including the above “Childhood is a Journey” graphic, come to me from @trust4kids as an instant reminder of why it is critical for parents, teachers, and mentors to give the gift of childhood to our kids from the very moment of birth, especially in those early years to age 6.  The research and practical experience shows that after age 6, children have a wired framework for moral values.  Once a kid reaches age 6 and beyond, changing behaviors from a toxic world to a healthy disposition is a retrofit challenge for a very long time…  In my case, it took 64 years of my life to labor through depression, anxiety, and anger to achieve a lasting peace of mind.

In addition to robust social media resources, local early childhood and after-school or out-of-school programs like Neighbors for Kids in Depoe Bay, Oregon help children and families build a healthy kick-start for kids.  My work and passion in life is advocacy for the healthy minds and bodies of children.  Give your child the gift of peace of mind in the beginning by nurturing emotional strength, early learning opportunities, and healthy social interactions with peers and adults.  It definitely takes more than one parent and one family to build a healthy foundation for all children…it is in a healthy community where kids thrive…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 1 & 2…  Click the highlighted text for my author page…


Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, and Child Advocate

Please Help Neighbors for Kids in Depoe Bay, Oregon…overflow parking required by zoning laws…


GoFundMe…Neighbors for Kids overflow parking is required by City of Depoe Bay zoning.  Our 7600 sqft community education and recreation center needs additional parking to hold special events for children and families…and for earned income opportunities and fund raising…

A donation of any amount is most appreciated…Thank you!

Steve Sparks, Vice Chair,


Neighbors for Kids in Depoe Bay, Oregon… Offers Academics During Extended School Day…



Neighbors for Kids After-School Focus on Literacy…

Neighbors for Kids, Depoe Bay, Oregon…Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Math (STEAM)! Quote from this page, Academic Excellence & Achievement Program (AXAP).

“When students master skills in Reading and Math, they go to school feeling good about their accomplishments.  Getting help with homework allows students to go to school prepared and feeling confident.
The Academic Excellence & Achievement Program (AXAP) provides one-on-one support in Reading and Math, as well as Homework Help. Students are taught important skills by caring, professional educators, following a comprehensive diagnostic assessment.”
NFK Academics

Academic Excellence & Achievement Program (AXAP)…K-12 After-School Tutoring & Mentoring


I am so proud of the work we do at Neighbors for Kids, Depoe Bay, Oregon!  I am also honored to have been part of this outstanding after-school program as a board member for the last 5 years.  It has been the best work of my life!

Even when we are away on vacation, I get fun reminders everyday like the photo above showing our children reading “big books” from our new library.  In cooperation with the Lincoln County School District (LCSD) and the “21st Century Community Learning Center Program,” we take literacy development very seriously as a key priority during the hours of 3pm-6pm.  We also team up with parents and volunteers for additional support during a monthly evening or Saturday event through our “Family Literacy Program.”

Although we are having a great time getting away for two weeks enjoying visits with family and friends and the beautiful weather in Southern California, I am anxious to get home and get back to the work I love, helping Neighbors for Kids succeed as a sustainable 21st Century after-school model for the future.  The children and families in Lincoln County Oregon are the big winners!  It is an honor to be part of the NFK team of staff and volunteers who make a difference each and every day for kids…

Steve Sparks, Vice Chair, Neighbors for Kids , Depoe Bay, Oregon





Start at birth to build healthy minds by singing and reading to children…


Dr. Leora Mogilner, a pediatrician at Mount Sinai Hospital, gave a book to Kaylee Smith, 9 months, and guidance to her mother, Tameka Griffiths, 33. RUTH FREMSON / THE NEW YORK TIMES

Early child literacy…key to healthy minds… Quote from this website article by the New Your Times…


“In between dispensing advice on breast-feeding and immunizations, doctors will tell parents to read aloud to their infants from birth, under a new policy that the American Academy of Pediatrics will announce on Tuesday.”


In my own work with children as vice chair of Neighbors for Kids (click here) in Depoe Bay, Oregon, literacy programs are a high priority.  We are building a library along with information technology learning resources.  As part of the US Department of Education, “21st Century Community Learning Centers” (click here) goals, monthly literacy nights with parents and kids called “read and feed” started this year and has become highly popular.  This program is a collaboration with Lincoln County School District (LCDS) (click here) to build sustainable after-school programs at key sites within the county.

Even more important to me as a child advocate and author, is the value of engaging in positive ways with kids at a very early age at home and in schools.  At risk kids in particular often come from stressful homes that can cause emotional neglect and abuse.  Parents, teachers, and mentors can help mitigate the risk of long term emotional damage to these children by practicing reading and singing for just a few minutes a day at home.  Kids are more likely to be comfortable at school engaging in fun literacy programs knowing their parents are doing the same as a regular practice at home.

It is often challenging to pay attention to your children at home following a hectic day and in dealing with life challenges.  Please know kids inhale the pain of parents and store it.  As a parent, you can provide a more positive balance and foundation at home by taking a little time each day reading and singing to your child.  It is the kind of quality time with your kids that makes a huge difference for the entire family and helps manage stressful home circumstances…

Steve Sparks, Author, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1, and Reconciliation: A Son’s Story… click here to order my books…

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