Mississippi Youth on Path to Promising Futures with Healthy Teen Rallies
by Jenny Cox Holman

Mississippi is known for warm Southern hospitality, a generous spirit of service from our citizens and delectable comfort foods. Even with those wonderful attributes of our state, we are faced with the reality and sobering statistics that plague our state's youth and next generation of Mississippians. Teen suicides, pregnancy, cyberbullying, and addictions are all part of the reality of this generation of Mississippi's youth. As a call to action to equip and empower Mississippi's teens to make healthy choices and overcome adversity, Families First for Mississippi along with Governor Phil Bryant's office, Mississippi State Department of Health, and Mississippi Department of Human Services host annual Healthy Teens Rallies in Mississippi. 

Employee Spotlight
by Liz Ketchum 

It is an honor to serve as the State Director for Healthy Teens for a Better Mississippi (Healthy Teens).  This role has allowed me to work with the greatest people at Families First for Mississippi organization.  The success of Healthy Teens is owed to the collaboration and hard work of the Families First team.  Healthy Teens has allowed me to not only meet the most amazing teens across the state, but also their parents, teachers and administrators.  The support of these groups is what has allowed us to spread our positive message.  Healthy Teens had over 5,000 youth attend our Healthy Teens Rallies last year.  We are excited to be planning our next rally in Hattiesburg, MS on October 18th at Reed Green Coliseum on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi, and our February 28th rally in Greenville, MS at the Washington County Convention Center.   Click here to read more...

What is Healthy Teens 
For A Better Mississippi?

Healthy  Teens for a Better MS is a peer-led, statewide program created to promote  healthy choices amongst teens, which impacts many of the leading challenges within  the State of Mississippi.

What are Rallies? Healthy  Teens for a Better Mississippi will host two rallies per school year, one held in  the north and one held in the south part of the state. Last year's rallies hosted over 5,000  students from 80+ schools. The rallies feature guest speakers, prominent DJs, and public  figures, like former WWE wrestler, Ted DiBiase Jr., and football star, Marcus Dupree.  Students also have the opportunity to speak with individuals and organizations about  their futures, including local community colleges and four-year universities, non-profits,  healthcare organizations, military, firemen and police officers. Check out the latest 2018 Healthy Teens Rally. 
Healthy Teens Rally Families First for Mississippi
Healthy Teens Rally Families First for Mississippi

Upcoming Future Rallies
The 2018 Healthy Teens Rally will be held on Thursday, October 18, 2018, from 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m., at the Reed Green Coliseum on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg and also on February 28, 2019, from 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m., at Washington County Convention Center in Greenville, Mississippi.

Tupelo's Beds for Kids Benefit Concert 
Brings in Over $6500! 

$3302.39 was raised in cash donations and over 100 bedding items were donated during the BEDS FOR KIDS Benefit Concert held at the Summit Center in Tupelo Thursday August 23rd.   A commitment was made to match the donations of the evening which would bring the cash total to $6600.  The event's purpose was not only to increase awareness about the great need for beds for children in the community but primarily to raise funds and collect items to fill this need.

     One of the faith-based projects undertaken by The Family Resource Center of North Mississippi (FRC), through their joint program of Families First for Mississippi (FFFM) with Mississippi Community Education Center (MCEC), the lack of beds came to light earlier this year during interaction with clients who come to the organization for assistance in overcoming a variety of other needs.  Click here to read more...

Baldwyn Schools  Receive 650 Boxes of Food

Baldwyn Schools partnered with the Tupelo/Lee County Hunger Coalition, a division of United Way, and the Family Resource Center of Tupelo to provide free food boxes for students in grades kindergarten through eighth grade.

Fourteen pallets (650 boxes) of non-perishable food item boxes were delivered Baldwyn Schools' Back to School Registration on Monday, August to the elementary and middle school campuses.

"We are very excited about this opportunity to help provide and meet the needs of our students in this way. We appreciate the Lee County Hunger Coalition and United Way in their efforts to better our school district and community," Superintendent Jason McKay said.

Students picked up their free food boxes at BES when they completed registration and met their assigned teacher in the classroom. BMS students picked up free food boxes at a distribution table near the main office after completing registration.

The food donations are an effort through United Way, the Family Resource Center, and Baldwyn Schools to help provide for needy families and students within the community.

Fifth Annual Youth Crusade 
held on the town square in Lexington

Lexington, Mississippi, was the site for the Fifth Annual Youth Crusade held on the town square.   This year's theme was "Wresting With the Giants", an awareness campaign to help combat youth issues such as drug addiction, bullying, and suicide.

To attract as many of the area's youth as possible, the festivities included live music, free school supplies for children, lots of food and fun activities.

From the Heart of David Ministries, Ted DiBiase and Chris Kellum served as motivational and inspirations speakers.  Dr. Rozel Chapman of Mallory Health Clinic was also on the program to provide awareness information.  Also speaking in support of the campaign was Superintendent James Henderson of Holmes County.

Providing grant support and a staff of social workers was Families First for Mississippi.  The team joined the spirit of fun and interaction, while providing school supplies and working to increase awareness throughout the day.

Healthworks Safety Day in Tupelo
brings in hundreds of children!

Saturday, August 18th, was a great day for the Healthworks Safety Day held in Tupelo off Gloster Street.  Many concerned organizations like The Family Resource Center of North Mississippi (FRC)-Families First were on hand to teach children about safety in many different areas.

Families First put on a skit to raise awareness about bullying and to demonstrate how to deal with this when it is encountered. Families First also has a display booth and information about car seat safety and as well as many other areas.  On hand that day were also ambulances, school buses, a book mobile, fire engine and other local agency exhibitions. 
Children learned about back pack safety and how to make sure they avoid health risks to their backs and lots of other important preventive safety measures.

Some of what was presented were things that may already be taught in the school system or by parents.  The displays and visuals offered tangible and memorable reinforcement.

Youth Career Expo in Calhoun County

Black Girls Rock of MS, INC. partnered with The Family Resource Center (FRC) -Families First for a Career Expo provided assistance in mock interviews, resume building, college applications and career interest tests.

About thirty teens from 9th grade to college young adults were present to take advantage of the event held in Calhoun County and to hear the panel of professionals speak about various professions.  A panel of professionals spoke about their education, careers, salary ranges, and other useful career information.  There were representatives from nursing, teaching, and military careers.

Sharon Petty of (FRC) was a member of the panel and shared her history, as well as providing the range of services provided by The Family Resources Center and Families First for Mississippi.

Youth Fun Day in Columbus
Providing great awareness connections

Diane Sherrod attended MS State University Extension Service's Annual Youth Fun Day, Columbus, MS.  Diane set up a Families First media table, and was able to network with a lot of people from other agencies/entities in the area.  She also was able to provide Youth Development Education on Bullying to some of the youth that participated in this event.

National "Back to School" Rally
at the Tunica County Resource Center

The Tunica County Family First Resource Center celebrated National "Back to School" Rally with the citizens of the Tunica county community.  This event was hosted by the Tunica County Sheriff's Department which included a panel of officers who had an open discussion on safety in the community and schools, internet safety, drug awareness, and decision-making.
The Tunica FRC- Families First provided school supplies, backpacks, and literature on the services our center provides to the school and community.

First Ever Healthy Teens Rally in the Delta  on February 28, 2019 

Program Trainer, Haley DeNoon, from the Greenwood Families First Resource Center is pictured with North New Summit School Principal, Keith Davis, introducing the Healthy Teens for a Better MS program to his school. Using the campaign, #ConnectWithUs, the organization hopes to add North New Summit with other area schools and students from the Delta region to the Teen Council this year. Families First is excited to expand Governor Bryant's initiative to this part of the state and announces the first ever Healthy Teens rally in the Delta on February 28, 2019, at the Washington County Convention Center in Greenville! 

Healthy Teens are Painting the 
Town in Natchez! 

Healthy Teens and Healthy Teen Center Coordinators are painting the town in Natchez! Drop by the Robert Lewis Magnet Middle School, Natchez Freshmen Academy, and  Natchez High Bulldogsto see our  Healthy Teens for a Better Mississippi posters. #ConnectWithUs #HealthyTeens

Pictured below is Natchez High School Counselor, Iris Myles and Families First Trainer, Zadier Thomas.  

Meridian Schools are Partnering with
Healthy Teens For A Better MS

Meridian wanted to join in on the fun! You can checkout our  Healthy Teens for a Better Mississippi posters at  George Washington Carver MiddleNorthwest Junior High SchoolMagnolia Middle School, and  Meridian High School. We hope to have all of them at our Healthy Teens For a Better MS Rally on October 18th in Hattiesburg! 

Pictured below is our fabulous Meridian Center Coordinator, Gretchen Luvene with the school counselor, Margret Brown with Northwest Junior High School.

Vicksburg Schools are all representing Healthy Teens...Have You Connected with Us?

Warren Central High School (Mississippi)Vicksburg High School GatorsVicksburg Catholic School, and River City Early College High School are all representing  Healthy Teens for a Better Mississippi. They are so excited about the upcoming Healthy Teens Rally in Hattiesburg on October 18, 2018 at Reed Green Coliseum. Ask your school how you can get involved!

Have you connected with us!? Download our Healthy Teens app for FREE in the App Store. 

"Connect with Us" Campaign
Jackson Schools wants to Educate  their 
Teens About Healthy Choices.

Jalisa Wilson, Healthy Teens Coordinator, visited Provine High School to educate students on the Healthy Teens for a Better Mississippi Social Media Platforms and the upcoming Healthy Teens Rally on October 18th in Hattiesburg!

Online High School in Crystal Springs!

Jakyhyah & Andrenequa are working hard at the Families First Resource Center in Crystal Springs to finish their online high school diploma! Jakyhyah hopes to attend  Hinds Community College  to pursue a degree in physical therapy. Andrenequa hopes to attend  Copiah-Lincoln Community College  to pursue a degree in criminal justice.

North Forrest High School Promoting Healthier Choices

North Forrest High School Healthy Teens council members, Ethan Bounds and Lauryn Smith, have been actively promoting among their peers to make healthy choices. August is Healthy Teens "Connect With Us" campaign, and Ethan and Lauryn have been recruiting their school to LIKE us on Facebook, FOLLOW us on Twitter, and SEE us on Instagram. 
North Forrest High kicked off the school year with Eagle Fest for parents and students, and Healthy Teens had a booth setup for students who were interested in joining the local council. 
Jennifer Culpepper, Healthy Teens Assistant said " North Forrest is kicking off their homecoming with "white out against suicide" for National Suicide Awareness month. The events they have planned will raise awareness about suicide and teens, and will engage students at their school and in their community."
Ethan and Lauryn goal is to white out the entire stadium at their homecoming to bring awareness to suicide. 

Bay High School Shaping the 
Future of Bay St. Louis

Bay High School council member, Kolby Furr and Lauren-Anne Lagasse has been actively promoting healthy choices among their peers at their school. State council members were encouraged to start a local council within their school/community, and Bay High had over 30 interest forms to be a part of the local council. 
Kolby and Lauren-Anne kicked off the school year with talking about Healthy Teens at their Freshmen orientation to help the freshmen set positive goals and to motivate them to make responsible choices as they start their first-year in high school. 
Each month is an awareness that healthy teen council members will promote and bring awareness to their school. September is suicide awareness, and Bay High will have an assembly with a guest speaker to talk more about suicide. September 10 is national "White Out Suicide"  to help raise awareness and prevention of teen suicide. Kolby and Lauren-Anne met with city officials to "white-out" the entire City of Bay St. Louis to bring awareness city-wide. 
Jennifer Culpeper, Healthy Teens Assistant, said " I'm so proud of their dedication to helping their peers make healthier choices."

2018-2019 Healthy Teens Council 

Since school has been back in session, these council members have worked tirelessly to educate their peers about making healthy decisions and bettering their communities! Their examples of leadership are inspiring. If you want to know more about what it means to be a healthy teen in Mississippi, find a council member in your school. We hope you have enjoyed looking at all the great things going on in our state for our teens. For more information about our Healthy Teens For A Better Mississippi, please visit

DHS Presenting Families First "Awards of Excellence" 

We had a wonderful leadership and team building seminar with leaders from Families First For Mississippi and the Mississippi Department of Human Services. 

John Davis, Director of MDHS awarded Mrs. Christi Webb and Dr. Nancy New, the Executive Directors of Families First, Awards of Excellence for their outstanding service and commitment to the families of Mississippi.