Special to The Mississippi Link
Gov. Phil Bryant told approximately 350 attendees last week that he has a goal to try and decrease teen pregnancy by 15 percent by 2017. The Governor was the keynote speaker at his Healthy Teens for a Better Mississippi first Teens Pregnancy Prevention Summit, Dec. 6, at the Jackson Convention Complex.
He said many, early on, tried to discourage him from setting such a big goal. “We got to set goals; we got to have expectations of excellence for you. We’ve got to anticipate your success,” Bryant told the teens and their sponsors.
The summit was sponsored by the Governor’s Office, Mississippi Department of Human Services, Department of Health, Department of Education, and the Salvation Army, with the theme “Stomp Out Teen Pregnancy.” This is the first of many such events the governor’s office will be holding across the state, according to Nycole Campbell-Lewis, Ph.D., LMSW, of the governor’s teen pregnancy prevention Blue Ribbon Task Force.
Bryant recognized Campbell-Lewis during the summit for the work she does in helping to push the initiative. The mission of the Blue Ribbon Task Force is “to improve the lives of Mississippi families and ensure a better future for our youth by collaborating to create a comprehensive campaign to reduce and prevent teen pregnancy.”
Bryant also told the youth that there are legions of people who are working to help them and millions of dollars that are being spent to help them achieve the American dream.
The summit also included personal testimonies from former teens about the difficulties they faced being teenage parents.
The task force honorary chairperson, first lady Deborah Bryant, also participated in the summit. She led a breakout session dealing with self-esteem.
Many students were elated to attend the summit and to gain the valuable information it provided. “I learned a lot at the teen summit and I also had fun while there; I would not mind going back,” said Akacia Gilmore, a student from McClain High School in Lexington, Miss.
Mississippi has long held one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the nation.
To learn more about the Healthy Teens for a Better Mississippi efforts, visit www.healthyteens.ms or email Nycole.firstname.lastname@example.org