Oklahoma Baptist University baseball assistants Chris Klimas and Cliff Corniel spend the morning with Central Oklahoma Juvenile Center residents last week, teaching them baseball and life skills.
COJC invited the coaches to spend time in the agency's Summer Adventure Program and the timing worked out for both parties, allowing the coaches to spend two two-hour sessions with the teenagers.
"I was a little apprehensive at first, but it turned out great," Klimas said. "These aren't bad kids, they're just kids who made mistakes."
Klimas said they visited with the students about coaching and baseball before hitting baseballs to them and playing soft-toss with them outside. Corniel wrapped up the sessions by giving his spiritual testimony about how he had made similar mistakes in life, but gave his life to Jesus Christ.
"That's the reason I wanted Cliff to go," Klimas said. "He is living proof that mistakes you make early in life don't have to define you. Those kids made an impact on me and I hope we made an impact on them as well."
"What an amazing role model of respectful men," said Susan Johnson, a teacher at COJC. "You never know what you're going to get from the kids, but it was great and we are so grateful to have them come out."
The Summer Adventure Program is designed to fill in calendar gaps in the teaching curriculum with informative and educational experiences.
"A group of us got together to bring in experiences and individuals the kids might not typically be exposed to," said Deputy Superintendent Mark James. "Susan did most of the work and it has been very positive. The kids have been very excited."
Other opportunities and experiences presented at COJC through the program have been lifeguard training and infant CPR by St. Gregory's staff members, classroom science experiments from the University of Oklahoma's physics department, gardening and a water rocket shoot-off by the OSU Extension and practical lessons from local restaurants and florists.
"There has been a ton of community involvement and we're very appreciative of that," James said.
COJC intends to keep the program going whenever the calendar and opportunities present themselves, which is good news to Klimas.
"I told them I want to keep coming back to talk to some of the kids," Klimas said. "I'd love to get our guys out there and get them involved, too."