Family Week: Strong families, strong communities

OXFORD – A national children’s advocacy group is encouraging special focuses on family unity all across the country this week. The Alliance for Children and Families, based in Milwaukee, Wis., is sponsoring its 30th annual National Family Week.
The premise of National Family Week is simple: “Children do better when their families are strong, and families do better when they live in communities that help them succeed.”
“National Family Week has been held the week of Thanksgiving since 1968,” said Alliance spokesman Paula Purcell. “Sam Wiley, the teacher who founded National Family Week, felt Thanksgiving was a time that families came together.
“Many of our members would hold family resource fairs during this week,” she said. “They also like to provide family fun opportunities.”
In Oxford, Family Crisis Services marked the occasion Monday with a Family Game Night at the Extension Service auditorium. Several youngsters and their parents played a display art version of charades, each taking a turn drawing while others tried to guess phrases or items as varied as “lumberjack” and “hot dog stand.”
“I think it was nice to actually get away from the house and do something fun with all of our family,” said Logan Harrell.
Logan’s little brother, Evan Harrell, said the event was perfect for him.
“I have a big imagination, and I love drawing and coloring, so it’s a good thing to get away from home and stop watching TV for a while to focus on drawing and guessing,” Evan said.
Lea Anne Lemmons is director of Family Crisis Services of Northwest Mississippi, which sponsored the Oxford event. The agency constitutes rape crisis services, child advocacy services and a Families First resource center that provides classes in abstinence, fatherhood and healthy marriages, among other helps.
“We were just trying to think of something fun that would be an easy thing to do for families,” Lemmons said of the game night. “Our resources are limited with the economy as it is, so we thought we’d just get families together to play games and hopefully make them want to interact together more.”
Logan’s and Evan’s mom, Toni Avant, agreed.
“It seemed like a good chance to get out with the children and do something together as a family unit, since it’s the start of the holidays and everyone’s out of school,” she said.

Strengthening families
– How strong families are achieved is open to limitless debate, but organizers of National Family Week suggest a few places for any family to start:
• Get involved in local National Family Week activities.
• Meet and get to know your neighbors.
• Plan a neighborhood supper.
• Select an issue that can improve your community, and work with local officials to effect change.
• Organize or participate in a school meeting about improving your child’s education.
• Write a thank-you note to someone who helps your family.
• Encourage employers to consider family-friendly work options such as flexible hours and time off to attend school functions.
• Volunteer with a nonprofit organization on projects that benefit your community.

Source: The Alliance for Children and Families

Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal