Our very own Jennifer Ford was recognized at the Arkansas Charter School Conference with the 2022 Arkansas Charter Schools Changemaker Award. This award recognizes outstanding individuals who are making positive change in their school communities. Jennifer Ford is a career coach and counselor at Southside Charter High School.
A group of students wanted to do more to educate their students, parents, and community members about the impacts of mental health on our youth. Mrs. Ford, along with two other teachers, took this group in and provided them the guidance and confidence they needed to move forward with this project. The goal was to have a week dedicated to mental health awareness. This week would culminate with a community 5k on Friday night. The group developed a presentation to gain support from the community, with the goal to educate community partners and seek sponsorship money to be used for the mental health awareness week, and to secure resources that can be used to support the students of SCHS.
The student group participated in multiple presentations that included 50 area business leaders. The student presentations were powerful and often sparked relevant and productive conversations about mental health. The student led group raised almost $30,000.
This money has been used to hire a national speaker who specializes in the mental health of youth, purchase and train a certified therapy dog, start a club that focuses on proactive mental health practices and tools, and purchase a curriculum focused on mental health in youth.
Principal Jimmy Hodges shared, “We have to do more to break the stigma of mental health challenges, and provide our students with the tools and resources to handle the obstacles they face as they pursue their future story. Mrs. Ford has been instrumental in helping these students bring a positive change to our school and community in regards to mental health.”