"I've learned how God is in our lives, that he put you on Earth for a reason and everybody has a purpose in life," said the 14-year-old. "If you're having a hard time, just talk to God and ask him to help you out. It works for me."
Last year, Daniel -- an eighth-grader at Northeastern Middle School -- participated in the first Xstream Youth Ministry mountain biking and kayaking programs.
Based in East Manchester Township, the ministry uses outdoor activities to help youth, including those who are considered at-risk with attention deficit disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, low self-esteem, depression, family problems and attachment disorders.
Set to begin its second year of outdoor youth activities next month, Xstream is open to youngsters 13-18 who want to learn a different sport or develop a relationship with God.
Mountain bike programs begin Wednesday, April 4 for boys and Monday, April 30 for girls. Kayaking and other mountain bike programs will be held in June and August, said Alycia Meile, the ministry's executive director.
The group meets several hours once a week for six weeks. Afterward, a graduation is held and participants' families gather for a picnic.
Sports, study, devotion: "We work with teenagers to help them see that they have value and they have purpose," she said. "We want to help them understand they have a uniqueness, help them build up their self-esteem and have fun learning while they're doing that.
Besides the sports activities, participants also have campfire devotion with Bible study and discussions on what they
learned about God and themselves during the recreational times.
Youth who complete the six-week programs are encouraged to become volunteers for organizations other than Xstream.
Those who complete 35 hours of community volunteer service receive free mountain bikes, Meile said.
"We want them to be able to take what they learn here out to the community and help others," she said. "We want them to understand that they have a lot to offer."
Daniel said he plans to do community volunteer work to get a mountain bike. But for now, he's keeping busy with youth group activities at Saginaw Community Church, which he attends. He also is a member OF Boy Scout Troop 31 in Mount Wolf.
Helps others learn: And he's an Xstream ministry volunteer, helping load and unload mountain bikes and kayaks, as well as helping clean and repair bikes. He also helps other youths learn mountain biking techniques.
"You learn things about other people, you're making friends and sharing your personal experiences with them," Daniel said. "I can relate to what they're going through. I just want them to know that things happen for a reason and God will help you and show you which way to go."
Xstream ministry gives Daniel an opportunity to interact with youngsters from other school districts and shows youth that they're not alone when they're struggling with life's challenges, said his mother, Cheryl Hatterer.
"I'm a single mother, and this group is another arm of positive influence for Daniel to have in his life, to get the attention and mentoring he's not getting from the absent parent," she said. "And Daniel enjoys meeting nice kids he wouldn't have gotten to meet otherwise."
About the ministry
Xstream Youth Ministry is inviting parents and caregivers to register youth ages 13 to 18 for the ministry's outdoor activities, which begin next month. Each program runs six weeks.
A mountain biking program begins April 4 for boys and April 30 for girls. The programs run from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays for boys and Mondays for girls.
Summer Whitewater Kayaking I, for boys and girls, starts June 18, with sessions held 6 to 9 p.m. Mondays.
A second kayaking series begins Aug. 2 and runs 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursdays.
Registration for each program is $35. Payment arrangements are available for families with limited income. Registration deadline for the April mountain biking programs is March 28.
To register, call 266-2251 or visit the ministry's Web site at www.xstreamyouthministry.org.
-- Reach Eyana Adah McMillan at 505-5438 or firstname.lastname@example.org.