It takes a village to raise a kid; how wrap-around programs can help

Saturday, March 23, 2019
News 12 at 11 o'clock

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- It's a job so important, it can't be done alone.

"You know that proverb that says it takes a village?"
Christopher Cotton said. "That's what I hope to see in the next two to five years here in the district."

Christopher Cotton knows from experience. His grandson goes to Glenn Hills Elementary and he's seen the challenges kids face growing up.

The solution?

"More parents, more churches, more businesses," Cotton said. "More people in the community overall being a part of helping our children."

Antonio Furtick agrees. He is the community outreach coordinator at Glenn Hills Elementary for AmeriCorps Vista. He says it's not just community involvement, it's a lack of resources for families in the area.

'It's much more than coming in and tutoring a student in a subject," Furtick said. "It's being a mentor, being somebody, being that one person that's changing their whole perspective."

He sees first hand the needs of kids in the school system.

"It's so much," Furtick said. "Mental health, hunger, domestic abuse, lack of love. It'll be like 30 degrees outside and you see a little pre-k kid walking in without a coat."

"There's a great need for resources especially in communities like ours," Vanessa Lancaster, the Principal at Glenn Hills Elementary School said. "But I think sometimes it's not that parents don't want the services, I think it's that they're not familiar with what's available."

The focus now is wrap-around support services. There are things like empowerment classes, backpack programs where kids get to leave for the weekend with a bagged lunch, military base mentors and weekly counseling sessions.

"Elementary school kids are sponges," Furtick said."They're like little sponges, so they feed off of energy, they feed off of positivity."

It takes an entire village to do it all, but first comes a helping hand.

It's not just Glenn Hills; each elementary school has an AmeriCorps Vista Community Outreach Coordinator. Get in touch with yours to find out more about programs your school has to offer.

The program is also coming to Columbia County starting in the fall.