djr-2019-15-22-news-wear-it-well-locationp6

Tupelo • Wear It Well will extend its work with youth by launching the Bridge enrichment program. Targeted to start March 2, the program will work with ages 10 to 18 to address needs such as food security, education, mentorship and life skills.

“The reason for calling it ‘the Bridge’ (is) we want to bridge that gap of what’s missing or things these kids may need,” said Wear It Well CEO and founder Katina Holland.

They will also provide meals through partnerships with organizations and restaurants, inspired by previous partnerships revealing some children may only get one meal a day at school.

The Bridge will be a Monday through Thursday after school program at the Charles and Ruth Morris Home for Wear It Well. Aside from meals, the program will bring in speakers from other organizations and also provide mentoring, tutoring, homework assistance and life skills.

The program is a spin-off of Wear It Well’s Love the Skin You’re In program, where volunteers work with schools to discuss bullying, suicide prevention, mental health and raise self-confidence. In that program, volunteers often have jam sessions where children can share issues and then connect them with community partners such as LifeCore and other resources as needed.

The Bridge coordinator will be Melissa Mabry. While the program has already secured its first group of 20 to 25 children to serve thanks to agencies’ referrals, Holland said there is still a need for new or used books, puzzles, board and card games, and used tablets and iPads for the youth.

“I want it to be very interactive and informal but at the same time teach them things. Even with the games, we want to teach lessons with those,” Holland said.

The organization will also accept school supplies throughout the school year. Holland said they are always open to having more volunteers in order to make a huge impact. Because many will be poverty-stricken, Holland said the goal is teaching children tactics to “break generational curses” and thrive despite their backgrounds.

Participants will be encouraged to share their grades both to be rewarded or, for those with lower grades, help them get up to par. Additionally, Holland said until they get to know their kids, they will not yet know what specific needs they may have and will adjust as they learn how the participants are. While there will be some structure, Holland said they hope to remain flexible to accommodate school lessons and encourage children to open up.

“We want them to know there is an open line of communication and that we do care and value what they’re doing,” Holland said.

The next few weeks will focus on getting all partner agencies on board so children can feel welcomed when they come. Holland said she is still meeting with potential partners, but expects to end up with six to eight partners.

The program will also make use of other Wear It Well programs, such as Pack the Purse and the Repeat Boutique, to fill additional needs, such as needed toiletries or clothing for any participants who need it.

“The biggest thing I want to get out of it is to impact some lives, make differences, give them a mindset to change whatever it is that they can and ... know they have an outlet with us to offset some of it,” Holland said.

The program currently can only accept a limited amount of kids and cannot take any additional children. Holland said she hopes and prays they can expand over time, and is currently working to solicit funds for upstairs renovations to the Wear It Well location to add more space. Now that the organization has a permanent home in Tupelo, Wear It Well is pushing for more partnerships and collaborations with others.

Holland encourages people to call (662) 401-6331 or email info@wearitwell.org with any questions or donations.

danny.mcarthur@journalinc.com

Twitter: @Danny_McArthur_

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