When it comes to measuring the health of the community there’s one question that should be the start of every conversation. Darnell Byrd-McPherson says that question should be “How are the kids?”As Executive Director of Darlington County First Steps, McPherson is using that question to create strong families in healthy communities.
First Steps has brought the concept of parenting, training for parents and early childhood education to the forefront of the conversation. “We’ve been able to provide literature on childhood development to families who need it, but it’s not just about the children, or the families, its about the total community,” McPherson says. Firmly believing that education starts in the womb, First Steps is determined to have the schools, the churches, and the community all involved in that very process and by doing so, McPherson thinks that “the needle will start to move in the right direction.”
The drive for this comes from a very personal place for McPherson.
“It’s what my mother did, my grandparents did. They helped people. My mother and grandmother gravitated toward those that didn’t have much. My paternal grandfather took care of sharecroppers. My mother and grandmother always had extra supplies just for those who needed it. When I became pregnant as a teen my mother was the one who helped maintain my sanity, and bless her, she was just the love and support that I needed. Sometimes you just need to hold out your hand with something in it and not expect anything in return.”
Darlington County First Steps has many different programs geared toward helping set children on the right path, even before they were born. Among the programs are: Access Condoms in Darlington County (AC/DC), Countdown to Kindergarten, Motherhead/Fatherhead, Parents are First, Parents as teachers, Parent Training and Community Engagement, Reach Out and Read.
Blog post written by Kyndle Cobb, Intern for The Byerly Foundation and student at Coker College