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Teen gives back to the school that helped shape him

Micah McBride (far right), 14, of Joliet leads a volunteer crew to add mulch and a safety border to the new playground at Families of Faith Christian Academy in Channahon.
Micah McBride (far right), 14, of Joliet leads a volunteer crew to add mulch and a safety border to the new playground at Families of Faith Christian Academy in Channahon.

CHANNAHON – Who is that kid?

That’s what several people at Families of Faith Ministries of Channahon were asking, said Pastor Randy Blan, when Micah McBride, 14, was leading his crew to install safety borders and mulch for the church’s first playground.

“He was pretty remarkable for an eighth-grader,” Blan said. “Whenever there was a hiccup or problem, he stepped right in and resolved it. He even arranged lunch for everyone. You just don’t see that kind of leadership in young people anymore.”

Just a couple short years ago, those efforts and abilities weren’t present in Micah, either, said Chris McBride of Joliet, Micah’s mother and a teacher at Families of Faith Christian Academy, the church’s day school.

During the four years that Chris had home-schooled Micah, she needed to corral him quite a bit, she said. He had difficulty setting and meeting goals for himself, she added. Micah agreed.

“I was very hyperactive, probably the most off-the-wall kid you could meet,” Micah said. “I would choose fun – something I wanted to do – instead of what needed to be done.”

That changed when Micah became involved with scouting, Chris said, as well as became immersed in the Christian environment at Families of Faith Christian Academy, which he started attending in the sixth grade.

The school, Chris added, came highly recommended after she received her teacher’s certificate in 2008 and began applying for jobs. She found it ideal for Micah since Families of Faith uses the same Christian curriculum – A Beka – that Chris used at home, she said.

“Their [the school staff] priorities are the Gospel first and the school second,” Chris said. “They’re there to minister to the community.”

As a student at the school, Micah knew it had purchased and assembled playground equipment. Because the school attracts many young children in various programs – the school, Sunday school, its daycare and the younger siblings of its All-Stars sports program – the need was obvious.

That’s when Micah, a member of Boy Scout Troop 44 of New Lenox, realized he could finish the installation as an Eagle Scout project. He also knew the school had raised enough money for the safety borders and mulch, but not for workers to install it. So he got busy.

The process for obtaining project approval by the Boy Scouts is not an easy one, said Bill Schade, Micah’s troop leader. First steps for Micah included writing a plan and completing many pages of forms, Schade said.

“We don’t let the kids take the easy way out,” Schade said. “Picking up trash alongside the road is a good thing to do, but it doesn’t meet the criteria for an Eagle Scout project.”

Next, the academy, Schade and Rainbow Council had to approve Micah’s plan. Generally, the original plan will need adjustment, which helps teach the boys flexibility. Micah also had to assemble any needed supplies and volunteers, as well as prepare a safety talk.

“It’s a lot of work,” Schade said. “Only about 10 percent of Scouts achieve it. Most of the time, they’re in high school, late freshman, sophomore junior or even senior year. Micah is moving along at a pretty good clip. He’s extremely active and involved.”

Also noteworthy is that Micah ran the project without assistance from Schade, who was at work that day. Most Eagle Scout projects are done on weekends, when adult leaders are generally available to volunteer, too.

Helping Micah to construct the border and fill it in with 14,000 pounds of rubber mulch were eight Boy Scouts from his troop and Troop 444 of Channahon and six school volunteers, along with Micah’s sister, Marcail McBride, 11, and his parents, Chris and Phil.

Through it all, Micah could see God’s hand at work through the actions of everyone that came out to help, he said. He’s also thankful to both Troop 44 and the academy for shaping the morals that guided him in this project, morals he holds dear today.

“The values that are important to me are trust, strong faith, helping others,” Micah said, “and to make sure I am prepared for the life that’s ahead of me.”

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