Teen Challenge Center for Children and Youth

Bringing hope and love to children on the margins of society

Teen Challenge is an international Christian organization which primarily aids and works with people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol. The majority of the people that Teen Challenge works with in Prague started experimenting with drugs and alcohol at very early ages, largely as the result of bad family and social backgrounds.

The Center for Children and Youth works to provide early prevention and a number of other helpful services to at risk children from poor socio-economic backgrounds. The center works mainly with children from Prague 3 who grow up in unsuitable family and social conditions. Many of the children’s parents are addicted to drugs and alcohol and some are in prison. Many of them attend specific schools with learning disabilities. It is not uncommon for multiple families to live in one two-room flat without a toilet or bathroom and with only cold water in the common corridor of the house. Personal hygiene, adequate clothing and proper meals are usually neglected and they enter school far behind their peers.

The center works primarily with Gypsy children or children who are of mixed race. The Gypsy (or Roma) population is heavily discriminated against in all aspects of central European societies in a way that perpetuates the poverty cycle and social degradation. The Center for Children and Youth desires to work against the prejudice that exists towards Gypsies and help the children successfully integrate into society.

Our Ministry Goals:

  • To lead at-risk, neglected, and mistreated Gypsy children into personal relationships with Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord (this includes ongoing discipleship and involvement in a local church)
  • To holistically provide for some of the basic unmet needs of the children; including food, personal hygiene, education, medical care, and a safe environment
  • To provide foster care where needed
  • To prevent drug/alcohol abuse, crime, prostitution and other negative social phenomenon which children get involved in at surprisingly young ages
  • To help the children prepare for a healthy future; to become mature, responsible, socially self-sufficient, able to take care of themselves and their own families

As a means to reaching these goals The Center for Children and Youth provides the following services:

  1. An after school program for vulnerable children and youth
  2. Street Evangelism and outreach programs
  3. Foster Care for children whose parents are unable or unwilling to take care of them

(see below for more information about each of these services)

After School Program:

The Center for Children and Youth has been open since 2001 and works with three different age groups, pre-school (3-6 year olds), elementary (7-10 year olds), and teenagers (11-15 year olds). They currently work with about 100 children and teenagers a year. The Center is open five days a week from 14:00 to 17:30 and offers children:

  • The possibility for better hygiene (showers, removal of lice, etc), clean clothes and food
  • Free time activities: sports, creative activities, theatre, singing, trips, weekend stay, and summer camps
  • Remedial classes: pre-school children have pre-school preparation (they learn colors, numbers, shapes, letters, days of the week, months, etc.): school children have Math, Czech language, Biology and Geography. We also help the children with their homework when needed
  • Educational activities: to increase children’s cultural knowledge we visit exhibitions, museums, theatre performances, education programs about nature and the farm Toulcuv dvur
  • Upbringing: children are taught the basic moral principles based on Christian values
  • Prevention programs for drug and alcohol addiction, bullying, criminality, etc.
  • Arranging medical care, psychologist’s and psychiatrist’s care (with parent’s approval)
  • Help for the Families: we provide assistance with authorities and consultations about treatment for children’s needs in education and upbringing

Street Outreach Program:

Many of the gypsy and at-risk children and youth spend much of their time hanging out in the streets and parks in this area of Prague. The Center recognizes that in order to reach these children we need to also be in the streets and parks. The staff and volunteers at the center spend time in the streets with the kids talking with them, offering our services and distributing leaflets. The staff takes the time to get to know the children we see in the streets and look for ways that we can help them with their problems.

The Center also plans consistent outreach events in the parks and streets as ways of drawing new kids to the Center, telling children about Jesus, and serving the children who do not want to come regularly to our after school program. These outreach programs often include games and activities for the children as well as songs and stories about Jesus and information about the Center for the children and their families. The outreach events usually involve between 60 to 70 children and teenagers and several dozen parents and adults.

Foster Care Program:

The family situations of the children who come to the center are often filled with stress and neglect. At times parents of children who attend the center will get into situations where they are no longer able to take care of their children. The children are usually then sent to orphanages and are forced to leave their friends, their school and at times their siblings. This can cause a great deal of stress and trauma for the child. During our work with at-risk children we have experienced this situation many times and we decided to offer assistance to vulnerable families in the form of temporary foster care. Children whose parents are unable to provide for them now have the option of living with our foster care family. They are cared for by a married couple who work at the center. Instead of living in orphanages, the children can grow up in an environment that they know well, under the care of a loving Christian couple. They can go on living in the same district, they can continue going to the same school, and they can stay together with their brothers and sisters. They will be given foster care until their families prove that they are able to take care of the children and provide for their needs adequately or until the children reach adulthood.

There are currently two sisters living with the foster family and it has been a very positive and helpful experience for them.