Steve Rogers

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Assistant News Director/Assignment Editor; degree in finance and administration from Yale University; 35 years experience in journalism.

KIDS Count Summit to Shed Light on Economy, Children

How economic well-being impacts children, youth, families and communities will be examined in detail next month during the sixth annual Mississippi KIDS COUNT Summit in Jackson.

Taking place Feb. 22 at Christ United Methodist Church, the 8 a.m.-4 p.m. program will include the official release of the 2013 Mississippi KIDS COUNT Data Book. This year’s publication features a foreword by William F. Winter, former governor and longtime education advocate.

Mississippi KIDS COUNT is the leading resource for comprehensive information on the state’s children and works to improve the outcomes for children, families and communities. Part of the Family and Children Research Unit at Mississippi State University’s nationally recognized Social Science Research Center, it is sponsored, in part, by the Annie E. Casey Foundation of Baltimore, Md.

Wes Moore, author of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller “The Other Wes Moore,” is the 2013 summit’s featured speaker. He is a youth advocate, military combat veteran, social entrepreneur and host of “Beyond Belief” on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

The $55 adult and $25 youth summit registration fee covers a continental breakfast, networking luncheon, copy of the data book, and toolkit resources from successful programs across the state.

For each adult registering by Feb. 15, one youth registration will be waived. Participating educators may earn continuing education units.

New to this year’s summit will be a morning economic panel discussion focused on making Mississippi’s children a priority in challenging economic times. State and national philanthropic leaders examine current best practices for investing in the state’s children and families. The panelists include:

–William Buster, director of New Orleans and Mississippi programs for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Mich.;

–Lisa Hamilton, Casey Foundation vice president of external affairs;

–Tom Pittman, president of the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi in Hernando;

–Marcie Skelton, director of the Jacksonâ?”based Walker Foundation; and

–Anne Travis, CEO of the Bower Foundation, also of Jackson.

“The future prosperity of Mississippi depends on our ability to promote the health and well-being of the next generation,” said Linda H. Southward, Mississippi KIDS COUNT director.

“By coming together, we can identify challenges and begin to pursue solutions for a better, stronger, healthier Mississippi,” she added.

Southward said the program will recognize and highlight the work of the 2013 Success Story recipients, including the Moore Community House in Biloxi, Jackson Medical Mall Foundation’s Obesity Prevention Project and Starkville School District’s Emerson Family School. Workshops explaining achievements of the three programs will be part of the afternoon session.

Other summit programs include:

–Workshops on such topics as child maltreatment, improving health and grades, and building safe school environments;

–Team-led technical workshops on the Mississippi KIDS COUNT online data center;

–A showcase detailing successes of the 2013 Program of Promise recipient, the Mississippi Children’s Museum, as well as related organizations and programs around the state; and;

–A youth track for students in grades 9-12 to connect with peers who share goals to build leadership skills and make a difference in their communities.

“Those attending also will receive tool kits from Mississippi’s own Success Story winners who are working to promote the safety of children, families and communities,” Southward said.

If paying by invoice or purchase order, summit participants should contact Dorris Baggett at 662-325-8079 or dorris.baggett@ssrc.msstate.edu.

Registration may be completed at www.ssrc.msstate.edu/mskidscount/, also the source of additional information on the 2013 summit.