In addition to running the international early learning school five days a week, Miles for Smiles would make regular visits to a center for street children ages 9 through 13, working with the center's personnel to motivate the children to want to stay there. Facing an almost certain future of roaming the streets, begging, being exploited for sex or falling prey to drug dealers, these children instead learned life-saving information and skills that will help them become self-supportive assets to society.
On Miles for Smiles' first visit to the brick shelter these kids call 'home,' they couldn't help but notice a mural painted on the wall-of children playing basketball with a real net, hoop and basketball. Realizing the power in fulfilling this small dream, the staff quickly solicited and received donations for professional basketball hoops, backboards and basketballs. Playing with the youngsters-especially during sports activities-has proved to be a wonderful way for Miles for Smiles to establish friendship and trust, opening a door to more effective counseling.
At the shelter for homeless teens, one of the Miles for Smiles volunteers said, "Setting the nets up next to the mural was like witnessing a dream come true; then seeing their happy faces while they played their first game was so touching and fulfilling that we wished our supporters and friends could have seen this scene firsthand. God's loving touch in these boys' lives is changing them from the inside out."