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Waxahachie, TX

December 6, 2018 | Mikayla Heldt

SAGU students and Education Faculty with Lavenia Ballina, far right, back row

Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) alumna Lavenia Balina hosted her second annual Texas Bluebonnet Reading Camp at Uplift Williams Preparatory Academy with the help of 15 SAGU Education students.

“Not only were our SAGU students a tremendous help to me, but their enthusiasm and excitement for the evening also helped to make it a memorable and fun experience for the students,” she says.

The camp was designed last year to get elementary school students interested and willing to participate in the Texas Bluebonnet Reading Program. Through this program, students read through a list of children’s books and vote on which book they feel is best. In order to get the kids involved, Balina decided to incorporate some fun activities to accompany the books.

“I asked the Lord to give me ideas on things I could do with the kids that would make it fun and interesting and keep them captivated,” she says.

To make the books more interactive, she placed an element of each book into five camp activity genres: cooking, arts and crafts, physical education, theatre, and music or media. The SAGU students were camp counselors who aided in the activities and interacted with the children.

“The SAGU students who read stories helped to facilitate conversation and deeper understanding of the stories, as well as giving instruction on the corresponding activity,” Balina says.

They helped create cheers, participated in the obstacle course and water gun fun, helped with preparing all the treats for the Korean BBQ cooking class, and assisted with drawing gigantic murals for the wall.

SAGU student Megan Rios participated in the camp by reading one of the books about art and then helping the children create their pictures.

“The experience I got out of it was great. It helped me to know that not every child is the same and that in the future of my career I can help students in whatever they want to do or be,” Rios says.

For the future reading camps, Balina hopes that more students learn to love reading and get involved in the program. The whole experience has been meaningful to her as a librarian and gives her a way to impact her students and exhibit Jesus’ love while doing it.

“I can be an example to the children and although I may not be able to speak exactly what I want to share about the Lord, I can live it out before them and I can share the principles of God’s Word with them and still get the point across.”

Southwestern Assemblies of God University is a private, Christian university located 30 minutes south of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex in Waxahachie, Texas. The university was established in 1927, and now offers more than 70 associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees on campus or online. More information is available at

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