Kids Across America Share Volunteer Effort and Spread Faith on St. John


Students painted a curb in Cruz Bay, above, during their recent trip.

A large crew spent last Friday morning, July 27, painting the curbs in Cruz Bay, but the workers were not from the Department of Public Works.

Those freshly painted curbs in Cruz Bay are just one of the community service activities about 64 students between 16 and 19 years old from around the United States completed during their late July visit to St. John.

The students are members of the faith-based Kids Across America program, which is based in Missouri and stresses leadership skills, explained Jackie Chinnery-Henley, who organized the trip along with her sister Beverly Brathwaite.

“My sister and I are from St. John and now we live in Dallas,” said Chinnery-Henley. “It’s been a long journey to get the kids to St. John. They are called Kids Across America and that is exactly what they are; kids from all over the United States.”

The students attend summer camp in Missouri beginning at nine years old and, if they remain in the program, eventually take part in a program called Higher Ground, explained Chinnery-Henley.

“Each summer the kids go to camp and it’s kind of a revolving door with kids coming and going on different weeks,” she said. “The group who came to St. John were the top of the line. They started the camp when they were nine years old and stayed with it each year until they got to a certain age and entered the leadership program called Higher Ground.”

“The program is all about how to be leaders and how to minister Christ,” said Chinnery-Henley.

While Kids Across America is not affiliated with any particular church, the group is faith-based, Chinnery-Henly added.
“They are all from different churches, but the one common denominator is that they all serve Jesus Christ,” she said.

And the students did not take that mission lightly. In addition to the community service activities, the group perfomed a gospel-based performance based in drama, skits and the spoken word during their trip.

The students staged performances at John’s Folly Learning Institute, Winston Wells ball field, St. Ursula’s Senior Citizens Center, Bertha C. Boshulte School on St. Thomas as well as for some special guests, explained Chinnery-Henley.

“They performed for Governor deJongh and his staff on St. Thomas and also went to Tortola where they did a performance as well,” she said.

The students stayed at Cinnamon Bay Campground during their stay and also had some time to enjoy the island, Chinnery-Henley added.

“They had a great time at Cinnamon Bay and at the beach and they enjoyed a glass bottom boat ride,” she said.

The program was such a success, the group plans to return to Love City, Chinnery-Henley explained.

“The director of the program Pastor Daniel and his wife Angie said they would definitely be back next year,” she said.