“Most of you know something about BICC. We have been around for 14 years and we base our programs on input from the community,” Hughes began. “With God’s grace we are at 12 programs.”
These programs include Starfish, Inspiring Tomorrow’s Leaders Today, and Bradley Initiative Credit Union among others. The BICC mission, according to its website, is “to unite churches, along with other community organizations, to address the root and systemic causes of the social, economic and cultural issues in Cleveland/Bradley County, Tennessee.” Hughes told the members of Kiwanis change is occurring very rapidly in the Bradley County region. In answer to this change, BICC would like to focus its energies to have a long-term impact on the community.
Continued Hughes, “Our new focus is the family. We recognize the family has an essential role in the emotional, physical, and spiritual needs of individuals required for a community to prosper.”
Members were asked to answer the question, “If the family was whole and functional then how would it be different in _________.” Hughes proceeded to fill in the blank with: law enforcement; churches; economic development; in the community as a whole. According to Hughes, it is evident that the social and economic environment is deteriorating, and this is having a negative impact on children, especially in Bradley County.
“This is hard for me to talk about, but research we have done revealed one in 14 students in Cleveland City Schools and Bradley County Schools are seen in campus court,” Hughes shared. “In addition, one in 21 are seen in juvenile court. Think about the impact that is having.”
BICC will begin a new program in August called Transitions for ages 6 through 16. According to research presented by Hughes, kids are more likely to get in trouble when they transition from elementary to middle school and middle school to high school.
“Transitions will engage families in a proactive process to strengthen their relationship within the family structure and help equip them to thrive as they together navigate the challenge of the school life,” Hughes explained.
The Strengthening Families Program will be used as the curriculum for the course. There will be 14-week sessions for high risk families and seven-week sessions for ‘other’ or regular families.
Added Hughes to the amusement of the members, “What is a regular family? Have you ever seen one of those?”
Each of the sessions will be three hours long. The first 30 minutes will consist of individual family meals. For example, if there are 10 families, then there will be 10 tables set with plate ware and food. The next hour will see the families split as parents are directed to one room and children to another. During this time two group leaders help the families go through skill building curriculum. Parents and children then have an hour to come together and practice what they have learned. The final half hour consists of reflection and evaluation of what they have learned.
“Part of the purpose behind this family awareness campaign is getting people involved in exciting families about strengthening as a family,” Hughes finished.
Families involved in the 14-week program must attend at least 12 sessions. A family does not have to have the traditional two parents with children. According to Hughes, “Whatever shape or form they come, we accept them as a family.” The only catch is children cannot do the program without their parents.
Participants in the program will be provided with transportation, if needed, and child care for children younger than 6. A meal will be provided at the beginning of each session and a monetary reward is presented upon graduation from the program. For more information, call BICC at 423-559-1112.
Gary Farlow, the July program chairman, has asked Pete Vanderpool, story gatherer, to present at the July 12 Kiwanis luncheon. The luncheon will take place at the Garden Plaza.