A Unified Effort to End Bullying in Mississippi
by Claire Goodson

Bullying, defined as an unwanted or aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. Bullies often use physical strength or popularity to repetitively harm another through actions and words. This behavior is prominent among school aged children, and research has shown that the effects of this behavior can be detrimental. Research conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statics indicates that 21% of students from sixth to twelfth grade have experienced bullying and 19% claimed that it was a consistent and occurred on school property. With such a high volume of students dealing with bullying, it is safe to say that this behavior can be considered an epidemic. In order to prevent bullying and the consequences caused by bullying from anxiety to teen suicide, October has been named Bullying Prevention Month. The purpose of bullying Prevention Month is to challenge everyone to educate our younger generation on what it means to be a bully, how to handle bullying, the consequences of bullying, and how to stop bullying in its tracks. 

            Families First for Mississippi along with Healthy Teens for a Better Mississippi have accepted the challenge of educating Mississippi's youth and adults about bullying. Many different measures have been taken to ensure that our state is proactively fighting the bullying epidemic along with the rest of the nation. Families First field educators participated in Unity Day by wearing orange and teaching about the topic of bullying to a plethora of classrooms across the state. Along with these educators, students educated peers through the Healthy Teens program. Schools across Mississippi include Healthy Teens council members who distributed "Bully Beans," a book that teaches elementary students how to properly handle bullying, to their classrooms. Healthy Teens Council member Kaylin Easterling said, "I believe that my words and actions, or lack of define who you are when someone is in need. I cannot be a silent bystander when I see bullying. It is important to me to not only stand up for myself, but for others and educating my peers helps them to know that they have an advocate in our school. I truly believe that by speaking up and banding together we can put a stop to bullying!" Families First for Mississippi along with Healthy Teens for a Better Mississippi are proud to be a part of a unified effort to end bullying in Mississippi. 
Hattiesburg Healthy Teens Rally Intro Video
Healthy Teens Council Video about making "Healthy Choices"
Balancing the Gifts & Learning Differences of a Life with Dyslexia
By: Jenny Cox Holman 

Reading to a classroom filled with third grade peers, a young man named Steven dreaded the merciless teasing and taunts as he struggled to simply read in class. In the 1950s, Steven was known by his peers as an ordinary boy who was the brunt of jokes as he struggled academically and known by his teachers as a boy that should have tried just a little harder to do well in school. 
Not knowing until adulthood that he had dyslexia, a young Steven sought a source of comfort and great escape from the reality of bullying at school by making homemade movies. "When I got bullied, I dealt with it by making movies. I have no resentment because of what I went through as a kid; I never felt like a victim. Making movies was my great escape and helped me get away from all of that. In light of feeling like an outsider, movies made me feel inside my own skill set," Steven said.
Despite living with dyslexia, Steven's professional accomplishments are uniquely remarkable and vastly well-known. Legendary American director, producer and screenwriter, Steven Spielberg has captivated movie-goers throughout generations. Read more...

Spotlight Partnership

Families First is excited to announce its partnership with the MS Highway Patrol. Families First donated an additional "Rollover  Simulator " to the Mississippi Highway Patrol Public Affairs Division. This donation is vital to the Highway Patrol's "In The Click" campaign and will allow the officers to reach more schools and events across the State to educate teens about the importance of seatbelt safety.

Southaven & Hernando Thanksgiving

The Families First Southaven and Hernando campus' are hosting a Thanksgiving Food Drive for families who are in need of assistance with Thanksgiving Dinner. Staff created a referral form and shared it with local agencies that can refer families in need for assistance. Families First staff will be present outside of the Hernando Kroger grocery store on Saturday, November 3rd to advertise the event and accept donations. Once donations are received, staff will contact the families that have been referred to us and set up appointment times for them to come in for a family assessment and pick up their food items. We have already had eleven families referred!

Pontotoc High School Career Bash 

North Pontotoc High School held a Career Bash. Families First for Mississippi was onsite and told students about the different roles at the Families First Campus, such as social worker, receptionist, NLRO facilitator, media/marketing, field educator, etc. Part of the presentation included mannequin babies with a story positioned behind each one and let the students pick which resources would best benefit the baby. This activity gave the students a little insight on what the staff at Families First does on a daily basis. (L to R) are Families First Field Educators Leah Box, Kiana Davis, Hayley Maxwell, and Valerie Bradley.

Tupelo Domestic Violence

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  Wear Purple Day is a local event that brings the public out to promote awareness by wearing purple on a designated day. Long used as a symbol for women seeking justice the color purple is our rallying color for survivors to reclaim their power.

Families First Works with Chartre 
Properties in Hillsdale!

Families First for Mississippi works with Chartre Properties to bring opportunities for education in literacy, in family relations, in workforce and job opportunities plus other services.  The gatherings are held on site at the apartment communities. This month, residents of the Hillsdale community in Tupelo were surveyed to assess the needs and interests of the families.  Children were able to do crafts and were served with special treats. Administering the Chartre project are Amy Bratton and Janet Turman.

Clarksdale Coahoma Health Walk & Fair

The Coahoma MS Health Walk/Fair was held in Coahoma, MS on Saturday, October 20, 2018, which began at 10 a.m. Doctors from New York provided information to the residents of Coahoma, MS on the topics of heart health, stoke, nutrition and generational awareness during the health fair.  The event was hosted by "Friends of Rural America from New York".

Columbus Social Work Appreciation Day

Social Worker Day is an opportunity for social workers across the country to turn the spotlight on the profession and highlight the important contributions they make to society. Our nation's more than 650,000 social workers have amazing tenacity and talent. They confront some of the most challenging issues facing individuals, families, communities and society and forge solutions that help people reach their full potential and make our nation a better place to live.

Grenada Anti-bullying

On October 25 around the nation, people celebrated Unity Day to stand together in support of Bullying Awareness and Prevention Month. Families First for Mississippi campuses statewide participated by wearing orange and sharing to social media and using hashtags such as #bullyingawareness and #wearorange. The objective was to spread the message that bullying is not ok and victims are not alone. Parents and kids alike need to know the signs of bullying and how to cope with it.

Hernando Purple Day

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Wear Purple Day is a local event that brings the public out to promote awareness by wearing purple on a designated day. Long used as a symbol for women seeking justice the color purple is our rallying color for survivors to reclaim their power.

Graduate Success Story in Indianola 

Recently congratulated it's 2nd graduate of the NLRO High School Diploma Program! Ms. Latrice Mason, a native of Ruleville, MS, completed the required classes and received her diploma in less than two months. Congratulations to Latrice! 

Pictured (L to R): Ben Gaston, Delta Community Liason/Indianola FRC, Latrice Mason (Graduate) and Janice Galloway, Indianola-FRC, NLRO Facilitator

College Day in Greenwood 

Families First staff members enjoy hosting College Day, an event at the Greenwood Resource Center, for area junior and senior students including ACT prep, financial aid, applying for college, and staying on track to graduate.

Building Workforce Partnerships in Canton

Families First for Mississippi is now working with Kelly Services to assist in new employee trainings at the Nissan plant in Canton. We will be doing workforce classes on how to balance life and work. We will also be teaching classes on communication skills, to effectively communicate with superiors, colleagues and staff. For more information please contact Paul Mooney at 601.667.4427.

Fall Festival in Meridian 

Families First for Mississippi-Meridian Resource Center hosted a Fall Festival October 20, 2018. This was a free, family friendly event. Happy Smilies Dentistry in Meridian sponsored the event. We had popcorn, jump houses, face painting, and a photo booth. For more information contact Gretchen Luvene at 601.366.4605 ext. 419.

Families First Fair Day in Jackson 

Thank you to the Mississippi State  Fair  for hosting Families First  Fair  Day this year! We received a generous donation from the ticket sales. We hope you had a chance to stop by our RV at the  Fair  to learn about the programs we offer across the State!

Families First Partners with the 
River City Rescue Mission in Vicksburg

Our  Vicksburg office works closely with the men of River City Rescue Mission on Monday nights at the  Vicksburg Resource Center.  Through our pillars, they identify the men's needs and work individually to give them as much support as possible.

They discovered one gentleman was an artist; so they supplied him with paints and canvases to help him rediscover his artistic abilities.

Trainer, Michelle Johnson is pictured below with the men of River City Rescue Mission.

Families First & The Economic Development Foundation in Crystal Springs

Nancy McRight & Kim Funchess spoke to the Simpson County Economic Development Foundation yesterday at the Copiah Lincoln CC Simpson County Center. They shared information about how Families First is helping strengthen Mississippi's Workforce.

Healthy Teens Rally in Hattiesburg

Our Healthy Teens Rally in Hattiesburg at the University of Southern Mississippi was a huge success! We thank every school and volunteer who came out to make this event a success for our youth. We hope each of you benefited from learning about healthy decision making and had fun while doing it!

BOO FEST in Natchez

Families First for Mississippi  Natchez Resource Center staff hosted the annual "Boo Fest" on October 18, 2018. This was a family friendly event with games, food , trunk or treat, and art and crafts.

Back To Basics Conference in Biloxi

Families First for Mississippi participated in the Back To Basics Conference-DHS University held at the Golden Nugget Casino in Biloxi. Together we can strengthen families in Mississippi by connecting the dots with different organizations and bringing partnerships throughout the state of Mississippi.