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Education | Educational Psychology | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


Stephen Stelzner, Psychology


Background: Lutheran Social Services (LSS) is an organization whose mission is to “express the love of Christ for all people through service that inspires hope, changes lives, and builds community.” A significant part of what they do involves leading afterschool activities that promote the learning of specific academic and life skills. Those learning objectives are as stated as follows: (1) working together, (2) communication, (3) following instructions, and (4) personal boundaries. As liberal arts students, we provide external perspectives regarding ways to enhance their four learning objectives.

Because they have our help in developing new leisure activities for their students, the LSS staff has more time at their disposal to focus on improving other aspects of the program. Our help in creating exciting new games was also useful simply because they were novel experiences for the children, coming from different sources than what they were used to; that is, the kids had the opportunity to experience various games they may not have played before. Additionally, the staff gained a new perspective on different follow-up discussion questions for the children after every game. Overall, our goal was to help make LSS a more fun and productive site in any way we were able to achieve. Those games help make the site an empowering setting by allowing the kids to participate in activities and share power in group activities. They also get to have fun doing it. The facility is a converted house. The project came about because the LSS staff needed different viewpoints on how to accomplish their learning objectives for their kids. They reported that it was great for the kids to experience new games from different standpoints.

Though our intervention was implemented at the Sauk Rapids LSS site, almost all of our work came from home. The project was designed for about 15 children aged 9 to 13 who were enrolled in Lutheran Social Services’ afterschool Kid’s Resiliency Program (KRP). The children had either mental disabilities or learning disorders. They all have different interests and abilities; therefore, we created a host of different games in an attempt to satisfy all their needs. We visited the site to meet the staff and visually assess our population’s needs.