MONROE, LA – Northeast Delta Human Services Authority (NEDHSA) has partnered with Mind Motivation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, to conduct an essay contest aimed at underage drinking prevention and financial literacy among youth. This initiative is another facet of NEDHSA’s Office of Prevention & Wellness Louisiana Partnerships For Success work as it offers evidence-based practices to help children overcome adverse experiences. On Thursday, December 9, the contest winners were announced, comprising of second and third grade students from Clara Hall, Swayze, Burg Jones Lane, Robinson, and Madison James Foster Elementary Schools, a total of 30 students. As part of the essay contest, participants were asked to describe what motivates their minds to stay healthy and away from alcohol and drugs in one paragraph in their own words. Also, the participants wrote in a separate paragraph why saving money is essential to them. The school administrators selected the winners. NEDHSA Executive Director Dr. Monteic A. Sizer said collaborations and projects like this show the variety of resources and innovations we use to help our region’s youth become resilient, overcome adverse childhood trauma, succeed academically, and be able to live and thrive. “This is another example of our agency creating and executing prevention and wellness efforts to help address and lead to the reduction of negative Social Determinants of Health,” Dr. Sizer said. “There is a direct correlation between poor school performance and negative health outcomes. By partnering with organizations like Mind Motivation and Pelican State Credit Union, we are able to address the mental, academic, social, health and wellness, and financial literacy needs of our youth in different, comprehensive ways.”
NEDHSA, Mind Motivation, and Pelican State Credit Union conducted mentoring sessions on underage drinking prevention, financial literacy, and mind motivation. Additionally, Pelican State Credit Union will allow the contest winners to open bank accounts, and Pelican State Credit Union will deposit a small amount of money for each A on the students’ report card until high school graduation. At that time, the student then becomes eligible to apply for the Pelican State Bank scholarship.
Mind Motivation President and CEO Corey Bradford said the value of partnering with NEDHSA is that in addition to recognizing the students for their hard work “we are able to motivate and educate them in regards to the dangers of alcohol.”
“We can encourage and guide them in a positive direction while simultaneously arming them with the valuable information to enhance their chances of success when it comes to some of life’s challenges,” Bradford said. “We are blessed to be able to partner with NEDHSA in this initiative.”
Principal of Burg Jones Lane Elementary School Lashondra Allen said it’s important that “our children know that despite what they hear and see about their neighborhood on the news that they can make a difference and change that.”
“Having people from outside our community come in and pour into them is just the example that they need. If students can physically see that some individuals and organizations believe that they can achieve and care enough to reward them, I believe that this helps to build confidence and resilience in our students,” Allen said. “It fosters in them the belief that others outside of their school and home families are genuinely invested in their success. Hopefully, it guides them to one day do the same and pour into individuals while making a difference in their community.”
The collaboration with Mind Motivation helps NEDHSA continue its work for the child and adolescent population in the region. NEDHSA has a number of evidence-based programs operating in almost every school district in the region, including head start programs and programs such as Al’s Pals that NEDHSA has funded in the Monroe City Schools and Madison Parish Schools for the 2021-2022 academic year.
Dr. Sizer added, “We’re creating ecosystems to help reduce the early onset of mental illness, drug addiction, violence, suicide, teen pregnancy, school expulsion, to name a few. We are doing this because we know these things are highly correlated with adult poverty, homelessness, high unemployment, and early death.