• 70°

Big Brothers Big Sisters

gets boost from state coffers

By BETH LAKEY

Staff Writer

Sept. 6, 2000 10 PM

Kindergarteners at Troy Elementary School will hopefully get a better start thanks to some state money.

State Rep. Alan Boothe, D-Troy, presented an amended award of $19,755 for a total of $44,755 that will benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Pike County.

Tennie Jarrell, coordinator for the organization’s school-based program, said the grant money provided by the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs will help expand the Big Brothers Big Sisters program in Pike County.

Specifically, the money will go to helping at-risk kindergarten students through the Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (PATHS) program.

PATHS is a "problem-solving" program, Jarrell said.

"We want to give the children in our school system every advantage we can," Jarrell said.

Her belief is PATHS can do just that.

The program is designed to prevent and decrease early anti-social behavior, academic failure and the lack of committment to education.

Jarrell said studies show the program, which is used in all the Philadelphia, Pa. schools, increases respect for self and others, decreases behavioral problems, improves thinking skills and helps children think through a problem instead of reacting to it.

Now, that the funding is available, Jarrell plans to get the program started in November.

She’s pleased the school and school system has shown such an interest in the program and hopes that will increase enough that teachers will get involved, go through training and help expand the program to include all elementary grades.

"It’s a really, really neat curriculum," Jarrell said.

The Big Brothers Big Sisters program targets children raised in single-parent households for mentoring opportunities.

In the grant application, Troy officials indicated 1,000 of the 6,000 households in Troy are single-parent homes. The program currently provides positive role models to intervene with at-risk children in single-parent households living in public housing.

With the additional funds, officials plan to expand the program and hire another full-time employee.

In announcing the release of the funds, Gov. Don Siegelman expressed his pleasure to provide funding for the program.

"Reaching children before they become involved in criminal activity is vital to fighting juvenile crime," Gov. Don Siegelman said. "I commend the city of Troy for their interest in this issue and I am pleased to provide funds for this program."

The grant had to be applied for using the city of Troy as grantee because ADECA grants must go through a governmental agency.

Funding for the grant comes from the Delinquency Prevention Grant program that is made available to the state through the U.S. Department of Justice. In Alabama, these grants are administered by ADECA.