Healthy Marriages Mississippi - great start for a Monday morning - 1/28/08

Smartmarriages smartmarriages at
Mon Jan 28 09:45:10 EST 2008


I loved it that this was the first thing I read this Monday morning.  Think
of it, if we could get an article like this in every one of our newspapers.
Go Carolyn! - diane

Healthy marriages, healthy families goal of program

Daily Journal

What is the Healthy Marriage Initiative?
€ The Healthy Marriage Initiative is a program of the U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families whose
purpose is ³to help couples, who have chosen marriage for themselves, gain
greater access to marriage education services, on a voluntary basis, where
they can acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to form and sustain a
healthy marriage.²

The Booneville School District Healthy Marriage Initiative publicity
campaign includes:

€ An ongoing billboard campaign with 12 billboard images/messages in seven
counties ­ Alcorn, Benton, Lee, Marshall, Prentiss, Tippah and Tishomingo.
€ Print public service announcements in newspapers that reach the
seven-county service area.
€ Place radio public service announcements on five stations and television
public service announcements on two stations in the seven-county service
€ For more information, call (662) 728-2171 or (662) 427-8469.

By Lena Mitchell
Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

When did divorce get so easy?

Puzzling over that question and seeking answers and solutions led Carolyn
Gowen to the federally-sponsored Healthy Marriage Initiative.

With the backing of the Booneville School District, Gowen won a five-year
grant to use the Healthy Marriage Initiative to help bring family stability
to residents in seven northeast Mississippi counties.

³We¹re not just trying to fix one marriage here and one marriage there,²
Gowen said. ³We¹ve lost the model of what families and relationships are
supposed to be, and we¹re trying to teach people how to build strong
relationships and families.²

The bottom line, the federal agency says, is that healthy marriages underpin
healthy families, and offer benefits for both spouses and children.

Gowen ­ a former middle school teacher, guidance counselor and curriculum
developer ­ is using her grant to mount a public advertising campaign and
present high school education programs.

Since the program started in September 2006, activities have included almost
4,200 students in 23 high schools across 11 school districts and seven
counties ­ Alcorn, Benton, Lee, Marshall, Prentiss, Tippah and Tishomingo.

³We teach healthy relationship skill classes, usually incorporated into the
health classes, family dynamics or consumer science classes so that we have
regular contact with the students throughout the semester,² Gowen said.

Reaching many
Leaders also take the programs into detention centers, alternative schools,
subsidized housing, Boys & Girls Clubs and any other venue where they can
find a receptive audience.

³A foundation of what we do is partnering with other organizations and
groups, so it¹s critical that we go out and find others to work with,² Gowen

To address the unfortunate byproduct of some relationships ­ abuse ­ the
Healthy Marriage Initiative requires programs to consult with experts in
domestic violence, like S.A.F.E. Inc. in Tupelo.
³We¹ve done training for each other and partnered with them for teen
conferences,² said S.A.F.E.
Director Deborah Yates. ³On their literature they have listed our toll-free
number that if anyone is in a domestic violence situation they can call us.
We also have trained (Gowen¹s) staff on some domestic violence issues, the
effect it has on children and that kind of thing.²

Rust College has become a partner for sponsoring a youth outreach event on
the college¹s Holly Springs campus next month to draw students from across
Marshall County.

The goals of the Rust College Families First Resource Center align well with
goals of the Healthy Marriage Initiative, said Resource Center Director
LaTanya Foreman.

³Promoting healthy families is one of our goals, which can cover a range of
things including abstinence, teens making healthy choices and decisions and
parents improving communications with children and others in the family,²
Foreman said. ³We look forward to providing information about our programs
on parenting classes, teen pregnancy prevention and anger management.²

Contact Daily Journal Corinth Bureau reporter Lena Mitchell at 287-9822 or
lena.mitchell at 

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