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Thinking about the threats made this past week towards DeSoto County Schools and the tragic mass shooting in Florida, I feel the time has come to discuss why I haven’t been posting as much on DCR and share the big project that I have been working on for the past 6-7 months. For those of you who have been following my FB page and website over the years, you know how passionate I am when it comes to our children, their education, working hard to reform the things that are not in their best interest and finding ways to make a real difference in their lives and their education. Recent events have proven that major changes are needed, so we can decrease juvenile crime, improve education, build character in our children and give them the tools and resources they need to succeed in life. After 5 years of long, hard work (for FREE), I am now in a position to help our schools in ways that were never possible before and all thanks to Bob Bickley, Roy Ray, The Rotary Club District 6800 DeSoto County and Superintendent Cory Uselton. Let me share this project with you.

Some time in August of 2017, my friend, Bob Bickley – who is a former Rotary Club District Governor, asked me if I would consider joining a team of Rotarians, businesses and community leaders to help implement various educational programs in DeSoto County Schools, which would focus on tackling juvenile crime in our county, improving the graduation rates of our high schools, provide tutoring and mentoring services for at risk and struggling students in our schools and a number of other positive programs, aimed at helping our youth. I jumped at this opportunity! To be given the chance to do what I have always wanted to do for our schools, I could not be anymore excited. With The Rotary International’s motto of “Service Above Self”, I feel like this is a perfect fit for me. Now, I am the Director of Development for The Rotary Club District 6800 DeSoto County FYI (Family Youth Initiative) Team, working as a volunteer alongside many others who are also volunteering their time to make this happen for our students.

One of the main purposes of the Rotary FYI is to help tackle ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences), which are known and proven to affect brain development in children, lead to substance abuse, lead to violence and increase the likelihood for juvenile crime. (You can click on the links at the bottom of this post to learn more about ACEs and how they impact our children and adults). Through The Rotary Club District 6800 DeSoto County FYI, our team has been working with DCS, the business community, prominent leaders in our county, state leaders and citizens to help implement certain educational programs (e.g. Peer Power and The Leader in Me) in our schools by raising the funds needed to make these programs happen and at no cost to our school district. The FYI programs have been chosen because of their proven ability to help students in ways that are in line with The FYI goals. Here are a few of those goals.

– Prevent and reduce juvenile crime by 50%

– Mentor young people

– Help those with special needs

– Improve quality of life for our children

– Work to break the cycles of poverty

For more information on The Rotary FYI Program, please visit their website.

http://www.rotaryfyi.com/programs/

Superintendent Uselton, along with the DCS school board and other DCS leaders, have chosen the programs that they would like to see in our district, and our goal is to make it happen for them. We are currently working to implement the Peer Power Program at Southaven High School with Horn Lake High School as the next school in line for this program. You can read more about Peer Power by clicking on the following link.

http://www.peerpowerfoundation.org/about-us/history/

Some time ago, The Leader in Me program (http://www.theleaderinme.org) was going to be implemented at Horn Lake Intermediate School, but it never happened. Now, our team plans to raise the funds for that program as well. Peer Power and The Leader in Me are not the only programs that Rotary FYI promotes or offers, but these are the two that have been chosen to start off this initiative in our county. Obviously, the more money we raise and the more success we have, the more we will be able to do district wide and eventually statewide. The possibilities are endless.

I have always believed that the answers to the problems in our schools and with our youth will never be solved by the government and are NOT the results of one root cause. The problems are multifaceted and should be handled as such. Rotary International, the divisions thereof and their programs are NONpolitical, which is what our children need now more than ever……nonpolitical solutions. The viciousness of the politics is failing our children. Self serving adults with a blame everyone else mindset are failing our children. Adverse childhood experiences are what we need to be focusing on and their impact on our youth. Addressing ACEs and working together to combat this issue WILL make a difference!

I will share more about our Rotary District 6800 DeSoto County FYI Team’s local efforts as we progress, but please know that there are many efforts being made to help our youth locally and address juvenile crime. What happened this past week in our county and in Florida needs to be addressed, and I can confidently say that it is. A lot of work goes on behind the scenes, and I am most grateful to be a part of the efforts being made.

Read more about ACEs below and never hesitate to message me with any of your concerns. I am happy to assist you if I can.

#StayInformedAndStayEngaged

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s Info on ACEs:

https://www.samhsa.gov/capt/practicing-effective-prevention/prevention-behavioral-health/adverse-childhood-experiences

The Center for Disease Control’s Info on ACEs and Violence Prevention:

https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/acestudy/index.html

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Info and Resources on ACEs:

https://www.rwjf.org/en/library/collections/aces.html

– Heather Fox

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