For the past 20 years, Rodney Perkins has been organizing youth-focused events through Kidsnic, a community-based group focused on providing youth with a safe and nurturing environment to develop their intelligence, confidence, social skills, decision making and integrity, while having fun.
    Perkins and a small group of local volunteers are inviting children to join them at Pontiac City Hall on Sunday, from noon to 6:30 p.m., for the second year of Kidsnic Jeopardy, part of the Kidsnic Winter Games event that has been held at city hall for the past seven years.
    “What keeps me motivated is the kids we serve,” Perkins said. “If it wasn’t for this program, I don’t know what I would be doing. Children come from all over the state to attend our Kidsnic events.”
    Perkins sees the fact that the event is drawing interest from youth across the area, as well as Chicagoland, to be a positive thing.
    “To me, it means our name is getting out there,” he said. “It makes me proud because I know a lot of people in the Pontiac community are behind this. Not only do they donate to help us make sure we can organize events each year, but they also help get the word out. There are too many individuals to name, but they know who they are and we really appreciate their help.”
    The original idea to host the Kidsnic Winter Games came from the kids. Perkins said instead of just dismissing their ideas, he and the other volunteers see the children’s suggestions as a challenge.
    “Pretty much everything we do is because some child mentioned it,” he said. “Instead of just assuming that kids don’t have good ideas to contribute, we look at their suggestions as a challenge to help us grow. As we thought more and more about the winter games idea, it made a lot of sense.”
    The event is held each year around this time to capitalize on the children who are still on winter break. Perkins said his hope is to give children something to talk about when they get back to school.
    “We want them to talk about our event amongst their friends,” Perkins said. “When a child asks one of our kids, ‘what did you do over the winter break?’ We want them to be proud of all the fun things they did during the Winter Games.”
    The plan to host a Kidsnic Jeopardy game this year is the result of the success last year. During the game, children play against their parents and answer questions that were submitted by officials around town. Questions typically focus on the topics of religion, education and entertainment.
    “Our goal is to try and get the kids’ minds running again, but the adults have a lot of fun, too,” Perkins said. “Because the game went over so well last year, we decided to make it the focus of our event this year. We are also going to be roasting marshmallows to make s’mores and we will be serving hot chocolate and hot apple cider. There will also be a variety of cookies and snacks available, in addition to other games. The event is organized so that children come in and have choices about what they want to do.”
    There will also be prizes to give away. Perkins said some of the big winners will get to take a bicycle home.
    “We gave away some bikes to a few children last year, but we’re going to have more bikes to give away this year,” he said.
    What makes Kidsnic different from other children’s activities, is the fact that everything is free. Perkins said keeping things free for children and their families is important for Kidsnic.
    “Instead of parents being worried about how much it might cost to send their children out for a fun day, they can just figure out a way to get their kids out here. I want to try and help our kids to realize there is fun outside of the Internet and television. I want them to get out into the world and start having some good experiences. If the parent wants to stick around, we are always looking for more volunteers.”