glp, PT: inside local
By Eileen Bailey
Three Northeast Mississippi agencies have received grants from the state March of Dimes to help with programs ranging from abstinence-based education for teens to prenatal care for expectant mothers.
Carol Ann Graves, executive director for the March of Dimes Trace Chapter in Tupelo, said the grants are funded in part from money raised in Tupelo. One of the group’s biggest fund-raisers is the annual Walk America, which will be April 28 in Tupelo. Funds raised by the March of Dimes are used for education or research programs.
Last year, $50,000 was raised in Tupelo. This year, the March of Dimes hopes to raise $56,000 through Walk America, the 6-mile trek that follows the same route as the Tupelo Gum Tree Run. The kickoff for Walk America, which began in the 1970s, is 5:30 p.m. March 21.
Graves said money raised this year also will be used to fund programs, such as the ones which received grants this year. To receive a grant, agencies applied to the state office of the March of Dimes, she said.
The agencies awarded grants this year in Northeast Mississippi are the Healthy Start Pregnancy Clinic and the Family Resource Center, both in Tupelo, and the ACCESS Family Health Services, formerly known as Three Rivers Area Health Services, in Smithville.
Healthy Start Clinic
The Healthy Start Pregnancy Clinic in Tupelo received $8,000 to provided a multimedia patient education center at the clinic, located on Garfield Street. The clinic, which provides prenatal care for low-income women in Northeast Mississippi, will use the grant to purchase video presentations that would provide women with information about the different stages of pregnancy. It will also help the clinic establish a lending library for clients.
Jane Wissinger, a nurse practitioner at the clinic, said they were “thrilled to receive the grant.”
“We have wanted to provide something like this because it is hard for us to provide the one-to-one we need to,” she said. The clinic, which opened two years ago, has about 30 clients a day.
The grant also will allow the clinic to purchase a computer and computer programs for educational purposes, she said.
The ACCESS Family Health Services in Smithville received a $3,258 grant to help provide a Teen Pregnancy Prevention program to 24 young girls from Chickasaw, Monroe or Itawamba counties identified for the voluntary program. Executive Director Marilyn Sumerford said this was the program’s first such a grant and said “we are real fortunate to receive it.”
The grant will provide abstinence-based education material for the girls chosen for the program. Once chosen for the program, which is a joint effort with the School of Nursing of Mississippi University of Women, the girls will attend a three-day, two-night retreat at Crow’s Neck Environmental Center in Tishomingo, Sumerford said.
There will be educational classes dealing with a variety of topics, including understanding physical and emotional changes in the body, effects of drugs, cigarettes and alcohol, dealing with peer pressure and improving self-image. The girls chosen the program must meet certain criteria, she said.
Sumerford said they plan to develop a program that can be used in churches and other community groups.
Teen pregnancy prevention
The other grant awarded in Tupelo also deals with an abstinence-based education program for teens. This Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program received a $6,000 grant from the March of Dimes.
Analese Franklin, who is coordinating the program for the Family Resource Center, said the first part of the program will be to train community leaders who work with children to lead an abstinence-based program.
“We would not have been able to provide this training at all if not for this grant,” Franklin said. The program is needed, she said, pointing to Mississippi State Department of Health statistics that showed 275 teen pregnancies occurred in Lee County in 1994.
The grant also will be used to fund educational materials through the Family Resource Center’s lending library.