We were so pleased with the turnout at the Weatherford KIDS COUNT Power Lunch this past Wednesday. And the Community Conversation Panel… they were GREAT!
Before we began the Community Conversation Panel, Susan Boehrer from the Oklahoma Federation of Families got up to share her passion for advocacy and the work the Federation accomplishes for Oklahoma’s children and families, especially in the areas of behavioral and mental health. We applaud her and the Federation and were so glad to hear about their great work and we can all band together to improve the lives of families in our state.
Superintendent of Weatherford Public Schools Matt Holder kicked off the Community Conversation by discussing topics ranging from teen pregnancy and its correlation with delayed graduation and dropout rates to child hunger and its effects on academic performance. The highlight of his portion of the conversation was the connectedness of a range of issues Oklahoma’s children face and their relationship with their education.
One of the attendees asked if Weatherford Public Schools still participates in the BackPack Program, to which Mr. Holder proudly answered yes. Seeing as it is Hunger Action Month, we feel it is important to mention how very important this program is to children living in poverty. Sadly, some children in our state often experience hunger when not in school. That means on Monday morning, the emptiness in their stomachs is likely to distract them from their studies. For this reason, participating schools send backpacks filled with easy-to-prepare meals home with these children over the weekend. There are many other ways to help reduce hunger and Feeding America has made it easy by condensing your many options to one handy page.
Carolyn Bennight of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services followed with her condensed version of the work DHS does to ensure our children are safe and sheltered. There was a lot to share, but she did a great job of packing all the information in and making it easy to follow. There’s no end to the work they do and we’re especially proud of the strides they’ve made, and continue to make, through the Pinnacle Plan. Because of their hard work, fewer children are staying in shelters and more are in homes with loving foster families.
Weatherford’s Mayor Mike Brown ended the panel discussion on a sweet note, saying, “Although it’s important to continually work on these issues, I think it’s just as important to celebrate our successes.” And, undoubtedly, Weatherford has plenty of celebrating to do. The Mayor couldn’t brag on their citizens enough, saying many adults there are very active in their community through the YMCA Afterschool Program, the Early Bird mentoring program (where adults read to children before school starts), the Kiwanis club – whose motto is, “Young children – priority 1!” – and various recreational facilities and activities in the city.
If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, register today! Our last two Power Lunches this month will be in McAlester and Lawton. Best of all, they’re free! And we’d LOVE to see you there!