Since its launch just over a year ago, the Salina Salvation Army’s new indoor archery program is positively impacting the lives of local youth.
While all participants have visibly grown in confidence and self-discipline, Capt. Lynn Lopez said the transformation has been especially noticeable for one student with special needs.
“I got him from the point of getting frustrated and thinking ‘I can never do this’ to actually shooting, making shots, and feeling really great about it,” Lopez said.
She said it’s been rewarding to watch this young man overcome his initial frustrations and grow in confidence. He always asks her about archery and is eager for classes to start back up again.
“It gave him confidence in being like everybody else,” she said. “Being part of the program gives him pride in himself. It gives him more confidence in just living and being who he is.”
The growing archery program, which is taught by Lopez and Lt. Ada Diaz Fajardo, is offered at no cost and is open to anyone in Saline County. With an emphasis on teambuilding, safety, concentration, self-improvement and physical fitness, Lopez said students learn how to wait their turn, follow instructions and practice basic math skills by adding up their scores.
Instructors also aim to develop positive relationships with students, providing discipline and guidance that some students may not receive at home.
“It’s about having fun with them,” said Fajardo.
“That’s exactly what this is all about,” Lopez said. “It’s about encouraging the kids to do cool stuff that will help them be better adults.”
Goals for the archery program include training more instructors, offering adult classes, and eventually taking youth participants to a competition. Initial funding for the program was provided by a grant from the Greater Salina Community Foundation.
“Without the extra funding from the Greater Salina Community Foundation, we would not have been able to take advantage of this great opportunity to share archery in Salina,” Lopez said. “This project will impact our youth for many years to come.”
Since arriving in Salina seven months ago, Lt. Elis Pomales said he has been blown away by the community support and friendly-natured people he has encountered.
“This community, the community of Salina, it’s a giving community,” he said. “Everyone is so concerned for the wellbeing of their neighbor. We’ve been very blessed.”
To learn more about participating in archery classes or becoming a trained basic archery instructor, contact the Salvation Army at (785) 823-2251.