Nearly 50 helium balloons were released by local AWANA Club kids, ages 4-12, near New London’s Lincoln School on Wednesday, Sept. 25.
Children from New London, Waupaca, Weyauwega, and Royalton participated in the event.
“The key of this event is to teach kids that they can share God’s word through simple methods like releasing these balloons,” said Club Leader Norb Witkowski. “Each balloon has a card tied to the string. That card bears the student’s name and the date and place from which the balloon was released. A scripture verse – John 3:16 – is printed at the bottom of each card. A note on the card asks that the finder mail the card back to us so that we can see which balloon and card travelled the farthest. Usually, people are willing to send the card back when they see that a kid sent it out.”
Witkowski said a contest is held, with prizes awarded to the kid whose balloon goes the farthest and whose card is sent back first. Witkowski tracks the data as it is reported, and puts dots on a map to show where the balloons landed.
“We used to use regular balloons, but we’ve upgraded to TufTex balloons,” said Witkowski. “They’re higher quality, and they are larger than normal balloons. We add a little bit of HiFloat to the balloons. This substance is supposed to help keep the balloons up in the air 10 times longer than normal balloons. And, of course, all of the balloons are filled with helium.”
Merry Stern is one of three founding members of the local AWANA Club, which serves families from around Waupaca County. She helped get the club started locally 10 years ago.
AWANA is an acronym for “Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed”, which is taken from 2 Timothy 2:15, which reads: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (KJV)
According to their website, awana.org, AWANA helps churches and parents work together to develop spiritually strong children and youth who faithfully follow Jesus Christ. Programs offer a proven approach for evangelizing and discipling kids in the church and community.
Each week, more than 2 million kids ages 2 to 18 participate in Awana. This includes more than 1.1 million in 102 countries outside of the U.S., the most children that Awana has ever reached internationally.
The local club is not directly affiliated with any one church, and has operated from several locations over the last 10 years.
“The Word of God has a long-reaching effect,” said Stern. “It will be fun to see where these balloons go, and where they are sent back from.”