Geist Christian Church Raising Funds for Kenyan Special Needs Children
MASK Fun Walk/Run Fundraiser Coming Up March 21-22
Writer: Matt Keating
Photography Provided by Geist Christian Church
Students at Geist Christian Church and Weekday Ministry will be putting on their running and walking shoes to help kids in Africa. The students will participate in a Fun Walk/Run, a global fundraiser, on March 21-22 to raise funds to help children with physical disabilities and their families in Matuu, Kenya.
Janine Kays, the Weekdays Ministries Promise Road Director, says the walk/run is part of a program called MASK (Mama Agnes’ Special Kids), named after Wanda Makau, a Kenya Institute Special Education (KISE) teacher who died of a spinal injury resulting from a fatal accident in 2003. Kays says Makau was dedicated to her family and special needs children. Her love for both groups is kept alive through The MASK Foundation.
The program was founded by one of the ministries’ teachers, Alice Reinhart, who has raised more than $10,000 for MASK.
“We are able to use our Certified Outdoor Classroom spaces for this event,” Kays says. “The walk/run mimics a 5K but for our preschoolers. The students learn about Kenya in each of our curricular areas: art, gym, music and faith and values. This is a unique way to connect our school and church to a nonprofit in Africa while showing our students how they help other children halfway around the world.”
MASK provides resources for education, in-home care, prenatal medical needs, nutritional needs and physical needs (mobility devices.)
“Our MASK outreach program allows us to help Kenyan children and their families learn and grow, too,” Kays says. “We absolutely love showing even our youngest students how they can help children halfway across the world. All of our students (18 months old-kindergarten) are involved in this mission. With having a teacher, Alice Reinhart, here that the students know, she can share her stories and artifacts from Kenya. Because of that, the bond grows stronger year after year.”
For the last three years, 250 students and 36 teachers have partnered to work on MASK. This year they hope to use money raised at the Fun Run to start projects that MASK kids can begin to sustain. They hope to start an income-generating program that will utilize their talents and abilities with carpentry, sewing, pottery, raising chickens and goats and more.
“When Alice comes back from Kenya and shares stories and pictures from children we have helped, it makes a real-world experience with these young students,” Kays says. “Our students learn that their world is bigger than just our school. What a reward it is to help our students grow in God’s love.”
Kays added that Reinhart has other events throughout the year people can join to help the organization.
“She has had her own 5K race, garage sales and shopping events, all to raise money for MASK,” she says.
For more information on donations, visit geistchristian.org.