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Big Brother-Big Sister mentoring program coming to Brookhaven

The Brookhaven School District has been chosen as one of eightschool-based sites for a statewide Big Brother-Big Sister mentoringprogram, local and state officials said.

“It’s really an honor for the Brookhaven School District and thecity of Brookhaven to be chosen as a regional site,” saidSuperintendent Dr. Sam Bounds. “It’s something we desperately needworking with our kids and that’s individuals working withkids.”

The Big Brother-Big Sister programs are expected to help anestimated 200,000 at-risk state children avoid crime and becomeeducated adults, Attorney General Mike Moore said Wednesday duringa press conference announcing the program.

”We decided the best thing we could do instead of building moreprisons is to prevent kids from getting in trouble in the firstplace,” Moore said.

In addition to Brookhaven, the eight regional centers will belocated at schools in Biloxi-Gulfport, Cleveland, Jackson,Meridian, Pascagoula, Petal and Tupelo. Brookhaven will overseeefforts in southwest Mississippi.

“Mississippi will be the only state in the nation with statewideBig Brother-Big Sister involvement,” Bounds said.

Bounds said school officials received the first informationabout the program Wednesday.

“Now we’ll start reviewing that information and putting it intoeffect,” Bounds said.

Bounds said he hoped the new program could build on already-goodlocal mentoring programs and make them better. Looking to recruitmany new mentors, the superintendent said mentoring is appropriatefor any age group, but the younger the better.

“The more students we can mentor, the better our students willbe,” Bounds said.

The Legislature has appropriated $1.2 million for the BigBrother-Big Sister program that is similar to Gov. RonnieMusgrove’s Leadership Council on Mentoring, announced by thegovernor on Aug. 10.

”I’m sure these things will be merged and we’ll be workingtogether,” Moore said, downplaying possible differences betweenthe two leaders. ”Ronnie Musgrove and I are friends. It’s much adoabout nothing.”

Moore said thousands of adults would be recruited to work withchildren.

The attorney general, state Superintendent Richard Thompson andLt. Gov. Amy Tuck were among those who signed up to be Big Brothersor Big Sisters at the news conference.

Tuck said Moore’s Big Brothers-Big Sisters program would ”givesomething to the children of the state” in a time of increasingviolence and crime.

”Personally, my neighbors were my mentors,” Tuck said. ”Buttoday, neighborhoods are not so simple.”

Members of the governor’s program will be announced Sept.15.