Earlier this week, the Chiefs Community Caring Team visited the Spofford Home, which provides hope and healing to children between the ages of four and 12 who are suffering the effects of physical and sexual abuse, neglect or mental health disorders.
"Spofford is a place for these children to feel safe and introduce them to people that truly care for them and love them," Crystal Bahr, Spofford Community Relations Manager, noted. "This is a chance to tell them that they don't have to be a product of what they've seen. For some, their families sold drugs or their mother was a prostitute or they were abused; all the situations vary, but this is a place that will help them."
Kansas City Chiefs cheerleaders and wide receiver Junior Hemingway 88 visits the Spofford Home on December 16, 2014
Chiefs WR Junior Hemingway met with seven young boys from Spofford who are part of the violence prevention group. The group discussed bullying prevention and how to cope with violence. Each student had a few questions for Hemingway, shared their stories of violence and why they are at the Spofford Home.
"They asked questions about how I cope with my anger on and the field, or if I had been bullied before and how to handle it," Hemingway said. "I told them I try to stay positive and to keep your head in the game. I encouraged them to let go of the negativity and the anger, because it sometimes causes you to do things you don't need to do. Once I started sharing with them and answered their questions honestly, they began opening up with me too."
One of the counselors noted that it can be very difficult for these children to want to share or open up about their past. However, when Hemingway began talking with them, each of the boys shared why they were at Spofford and opened up in ways that even the counselors had not seen before. The stories told were heart wrenching and were shared in confidentiality between the group.
"They really opened up to me and tried to share their stories," Hemingway said. "I tried my best to answer their questions as best as possible and encourage them to overcome that, be positive and focus on the future. You know these kids have a backstory, but you don't want to ask, you want them to feel comfortable. But they wanted to tell me and open up. It was a good experience and I think really helped them."
Following the session, Hemingway signed autographs and took photos with the boys. It was obvious that Hemingway had made a positive impact and helped these boys understand that violence is not the answer and there is hope for a fulfilling future.
"It was great for the kids to be able to hear from a Chiefs player and hear from one of their role models," Jim Frentrop, Social Worker and Therapist at Spofford, said. "Everything that he said was along the same lines of what we've been teaching them as well, so it was great that he was able to help reinforce that. It was completely off script but a lot of the kids opened up as to what they've been dealing with or their anger issues and he was able to help talk them through some things. They will remember this day and it had a really positive impact on these kids."
To learn more about Spofford, visit their website.