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Together with a $1 million grant, Arkansas educators and medical professionals fight school violence



Little Rock, Arkansas – In Arkansas, school administrators and medical experts are able to work together to address violence and crime in schools thanks to a $1 million grant that is set to last for three years.

The Pine Bluff School District and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ Institute for Digital Health & Innovation are working together to prevent violence and crime by building a coalition of organizations and safeguarding the community’s young.

“Seed Digging who will provide trauma-informed care for the students in that area,” said Stanley Ellis, Ed. D, director of education for the Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. “The Hurricane Hype Center is a facility that works with students and provides youth activities. It provides social groups and emotional wellness groups.”

According to Ellis, they intend to increase security measures in tandem with the school system.

“We will be working with them to develop a school safety plan to enhance and improve the safety of students in the Pine Bluff School District,” he said.

Another program Ellis stated will be used in this funding is the UAMS STARLITE initiative, which was launched back in 2021.

STARLITE offers kids advice on mental health, physical activity, and a good diet through telehealth medicine.

It has been demonstrated that these techniques lessen teen violence, he said.

There is a correlation between physical activity and the reduction of violence and also healthy eating and the reduction of violence,” Ellis said. “Partnering those two concepts with mental health, a focus on mental health, then I think that it will definitely be a benefit to the students in that community.”

The program was previously run as a trial for Magazine, Lamar, and Jasper.

Ellis stated that they hope to replicate the results they witnessed there in the Pine Bluff area.

“How to better deal with issues as they arise in their lives or better ways – healthier ways – to deal with issues that arise as opposed to resorting to violence being the first, second, or even third choice,” he said. “I think it will definitely benefit the students in that area as it has in the other areas.”

Currently, efforts are being made to establish specialists in the schools to interact directly with children, teaching them about positive mental health practices and offering a regular space for students to talk.

UAMS and the Helena-West Helena schools are currently collaborating to introduce the STARLITE program in that neighborhood.


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