Gulfport parents a "no show" for GREAT program kickoff

By Elise Roberts - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Gulfport Police Department has a new initiative aimed at building stronger families and stronger communities. But just as the department prepared to launch a spin off of its GREAT Program, it ran into a stumbling block.

"Not one person signed up," Lieutenant Mike Shaw said.

Ramsey Memorial Church was scheduled to be the host site for a family partnership of Gulfport's Gang Resistance Education and Training, also known as the GREAT Program.

"The GREAT families training is a spin off where we teach parents how to interact with their kids," Lt. Shaw said.

Lt. Mike Shaw said for the past six months, Gulfport's Community Relations Department has worked to implement the program. It's similar to what's currently being offered in the schools. For years, officers have taught children the importance of gang resistance and leaders hoped to extend that message to parents.

"Get to kids before someone else does," Lt. Shaw said. "Learn how to communicate with your child, because things could come up later on that may not necessarily exist now. But if they know they can communicate with you and say, 'My parent wants to talk to me.' Maybe it's an avenue that they can hit something off before it happens."

The initiative offers six sessions which focus on communication skills, positive relationships, becoming better role models, developing a plan, creating a foundation for growth and raising awareness about the Internet.

"It's a great program for something you might have to pay for somewhere else and we are doing it for free," Lt. Shaw said.

Gulfport Police say they plan to work with local school leaders in hopes of getting more families involved in the GREAT Program.

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