Green Country Grown-Up: Kendra Morgan
Providing Help and Hope to Struggling Kids and Families
For Kendra Morgan, starting the non-profit Building All Children (BAC) was a team effort with her family close by her side. Her idea for the non-profit married her educational background in Family Relations and Childhood Development and her servant’s heart for helping kids who are struggling to learn. Her small start six years ago led to exponential growth in size and reach. To date, BAC has helped thousands of children throughout the Tulsa area. And, despite the pandemic, the program has adapted and continues to expand in a time when it is needed more than ever.
A quick tour of the facility where BAC is housed revealed a warm and welcoming environment focused on development and encouragement. During our visit, Morgan shared why she felt called to start this organization and how this resource has been a blessing to so many.
TK: Tell us about yourself?
KM: My husband and I met in college and have three kids. I love my family and am crazy about my kids. My family comes first, so that is why it was so important to have my family’s blessing and support when I started Building All Children. My greatest fear was starting something and not having support – as I quickly learned, the support and funding needed to sustain the organization fell into place.
TK: What is your educational background?
KM: My undergraduate degree is in Family Relations and Childhood Development and a Master’s in Early Childhood Education. I am a Child Development Specialist (CDS) and a Certified Child and Parenting Specialist (CCPS).
TK: What is your inspirational word of 2020?
KM: My favorite word has always been “build” – because it never stops, it is on-going. Building is development – that’s why I chose Child Development as a major in college. Building is learning, adapting and growing.
TK: Why did you decide to start Building All Children?
KM: I came from a great family – very loving and supportive. Although they tried to help me, I personally struggled in school my entire life. I hated school; worked hard, and just couldn’t seem to get it. My tummy hurt all week during school and it stopped on Friday when I was able to leave.
My outlet was basketball – I was a good player and I loved competing. After finishing high school, I wanted to pursue college and play basketball, but wasn’t equipped academically or ready to go to college. After much prayer, the Lord said, “Trust me and go.” And I did – on a basketball scholarship at Northern Oklahoma College (NOC)!
It wasn’t until I was in college at NOC that a professor was able to assess me and attribute my struggles to my learning style. He told me that my visual skills were off the chart, but I had been taught in an auditory learning environment. It was a light-bulb moment – I learn differently! I quickly got help from a specially trained educator who turned all my notes into pictures. And then my brain got it! Once I was able to retrain my brain, learning became so much fun. I want to give families hope from my story.
TK: What is Building All Children?
KM: We assess, resource and empower children and their families to build each child’s development and individual learning style. It helps children reach their full potential by identifying learning and development obstacles and what resources to utilize that will help them overcome and grow. By providing tools to help build development at home or suggesting community resources, like speech pathologists, therapists, classes, workshops, families realize that they don’t have to struggle alone.
TK: Can you share some free resources BAC offers that the community can take advantage of:
KM: We offer Building Readers, a program serving children ages 6-12 for children who struggle with reading and comprehension; Weekly Developmental Playgroups; Teacher Workshops; and Talking is Teaching – implemented by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, a monthly program of family education on specific childhood topics – every family leaves with a new book. We also coordinate a Moms and Mentors program that provides on-going support and encouragement, and we work closely with local churches to help them serve their children and families.
TK: Who can utilize BAC? What is the cost?
KM: Everyone qualifies, regardless of the child’s level of development or family’s financial situation. We can work with any child from birth to age 12. The children fall under sponsorship and our monthly donors and church partnerships help pay for the services. We do ask the family to donate $100 to sponsor the next family (provided they can afford to do so). This helps the family focus on the next child and give back.
TK: How has COVID-19 impacted the organization? How have you adapted?
KM: COVID was extremely disruptive and we had to be very creative and revamp our program, but we never stopped serving. Like the rest of the world, we had to go virtual. Zoom meetings and virtual speakers became the norm.
For example, we had “Wake Up with BAC” where our staff member, Lauren, would host a virtual playgroup with dancing and singing. One popular virtual group gathering was a Developmental Question and Answer time with a different professional every other week. That grew tremendously and is still very popular and one we are looking at continuing. We were also able to host drive-thru playgroups. We are now slowly transitioning from being all virtual to in-person and that is a true blessing. Children need developmental and emotional interaction and the parents are enjoying it, too.
TK: Can you share a story of success from your program?
KM: There are so many wonderful stories! I can tell you that parents are hopeful after visiting with us – hopeful for their children and happy to finally be getting the support and encouragement that they so desperately needed. One parent shared with me that she didn’t fully understand her son’s diagnosis and didn’t understand his sensory aversion. After sharing why wearing headphones would help her son in certain situations to cancel out noise and distractions, her son ate with the family at the dinner table for the first time ever while wearing the headphones.
TK: What message do you have for parents who are thinking about reaching out to BAC?
KM: Parenting is hard. You are not alone – we can be in this together. Our program provides coaching, guiding and supporting families, and it is worth your time to have your child assessed if you feel like they are struggling or falling behind. A child’s early developmental years are important: 90 percent of brain development happens before a child turns 5 years old. Research also showed that 44 percent of parents waited a year to receive services for their child after acknowledging their child had a serious problem. These are significant statistics! Families don’t have to wait. The majority of children we see are in the 3- to 5-year-old range and there is still time to work on vital brain development.
TK: What’s coming up for you and/or the organization?
KM: We are having a Family Game Night fundraiser on November 8 where community members can get involved and support BAC. We desire for families and friends to come together, learn about our program and see how, together, we can change lives. To purchase the Family Game Night Box or make a donation – specific sponsorship levels are available – visit buildingallchildren.org.