HomeArkansas newsUAMS receives major funding to fight violence in schools

UAMS receives major funding to fight violence in schools

Pine Bluff, Arkansas – In a significant move to reduce violent crime in schools, the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences (UAMS) has embarked on a mission to assist students in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. This initiative comes in the wake of Pine Bluff recording its 26th homicide, underlining the urgent need for intervention in the community.

UAMS received a substantial $1 million grant in September from the U.S. Department of Justice, specifically aimed at addressing school violence. This grant, however, has a duration of only three years, with the possibility of renewal. Dr. Stanley Ellis, the director of the UAMS Institute for Digital Health and Innovation, emphasizes the potential impact of this funding on Pine Bluff schools. He believes that by mitigating violence among children, the benefits will ripple through to their families and the broader school environment.

The UAMS initiative is not working in isolation. It has partnered with several community-based programs, including the Hurricane Hype Center, located at the New St. Hurricane Baptist Church in Pine Bluff. Pastor Derick Easter, the center’s board president, expresses deep commitment to the community, highlighting the grant’s role in sustaining their programs. These programs include after-school activities, summer programs, coding clubs, and youth basketball leagues, all designed to provide a nurturing and safe environment for students.

Pastor Easter also notes the importance of the center in bridging gaps between students and fostering positive change. He mentions the focus on helping students manage trauma, an essential aspect of preventing violence.

Ellis outlines that the grant will enable an expansion of their efforts. This includes developing school safety plans, managing the program effectively, and appointing a community liaison familiar to community members. This role is crucial in establishing trust and ensuring that the initiatives are well-received and effective.

The overarching goal of this grant and the associated programs is to address all forms of violence in schools. UAMS, along with its community partners, aims to not only change lives for the better but also to save them. This initiative represents a hopeful step forward in tackling the complex issue of school violence, offering a model that other communities facing similar challenges might follow.

Ethan Sullivan

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