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Madison City Schools pursue “We Care” initiative

The “We Care” initiative by Madison City Schools is making a difference for families.

“We Care” started as a goal to improve school culture and climate for everyone, Dennis James said. He is the district’s coordinator of safety, security, communications and student services.

“We want students to view their school as a safe, caring place. If they have problems, even if these aren’t school related, we can still help,” James said.

“We Care” involves safety, character building and community resources. For safety, all Bob Jones High School students who bought a parking pass received a “Don’t Text and Drive” bracelet. “Take Back” events combat prescription drug abuse.

“We softened rules on cell phone use (for) better access to the ‘Text to Protect’ line during school,” James said. Secondary schools held “Challenge Day” to nurture empathy, while elementary schools conducted “Making a Difference Day.”

Horizon Elementary School fathers are getting more involved with volunteering.

Partnerships with charitable organizations are providing food, clothing, household goods, rental and utilities assistance and counseling for student families. A social worker makes house calls, James said.

“Good teachers get to know their students and can tell when one is struggling,” James said. These children meet with guidance counselors, who can contact the We Care team.

All seven elementary schools have a “weekend food program … for students who may not have enough to eat at home. We send home a bag of food each Friday” to 347 students, James said. Trinity Baptist and Asbury United Methodist churches pioneered the program, with Grady-Madison AME, Cross Pointe and St. John’s Catholic churches now helping.

If more organizations volunteer, the program will expand to secondary schools.

If families have documented needs, St. Vincent de Paul Society and Inside-Out Ministries can assist with rent or utilities. Community Action also helps. Asbury Community Thrift Store has given clothing and household needs.

“We also want to teach students to give back when they can,” James said, citing campaigns for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, United Way and others.

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