BICC Executive Director Brenda Hughes said the Healthy Family month is part of a three-month communitywide project that runs from July through September. Healthy Family month is designed to raise awareness of the importance and value of healthy families. She said churches, community and civic organizations, and government agencies are encouraged to get involved.
“Families in our community are struggling to effectively deal with emerging trends that negatively impact the physical, mental and social capacity that allows youth and families to live their best lives,” Hughes said. “Many of our youth engage in behaviors that negatively impact their ability to thrive socially and academically. Our entire community shares responsibility for the well-being of our children and youth.”
She said the Healthy Families Campaign is an effort to inspire and motivate families to utilize some of the valuable resources in the Cleveland and Bradley County community to strengthen familial relationships and communications skills.
“Summer is a great time to find ways to engage the family in meaningful activities together,” she said. “Together is the key word. Life gets so busy sometimes that simply having a meal together a few nights a week is challenging. However, family meals are very important times for positive communication and sharing life with each other.
“The emphasis on August is designed to be a kickoff to an ongoing commitment for our families and community to place a priority on doing all we can to strengthen our families.”
Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland and Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis both urged the entire community to join with BICC and actively engage in programs and processes for strengthening families.
“God ordained the family to be the foundational unit of all societies. Families serve to preserve and communicate the core values of communities to rising generations. The family has an essential role in meeting the emotional, physical and spiritual needs of individuals, which is required for communities to prosper,” Rowland said.
Davis said, “The fundamental purposes of the family are to provide for the nurture, safety and security of its members and to provide a healthy environment for its children. Unfortunately, the family unit and especially children are the first to be negatively affected in a deteriorating social and economic environment.”
Hughes said BICC is raising the model of a healthy family for the next three months.
The thrust to help families came from a special summit held earlier in the month. From that summit, BICC realized there were more than 30 church and community advocates who provided ideas for a healthier family atmosphere. She said children typically learn through their parents and peers. One in 14 kids in Bradley County and Cleveland are referred to campus court and one in 21 are referred to juvenile court.
“We had the summit and through the summit we identified a lot of resources for the family, such as the YMCA, Boys & Girls Clubs and a lot of churches have programs,” Hughes said. “BICC is also about to start a new program called ‘Transitions’ in August. The three-month awareness campaign is much bigger than BICC. It is communitywide. Transitions will just be added to the list of available resources.”
The effort to help families reconnect as a unit grew out of listening campaigns and a community forum on the growing impact of drugs, crime and gangs.
“This is part of that process, to strengthen families,” she said. “That’s what this is all about. It’s about strengthening families so our kids can grow up and be successful.”