Faith and Family: Mississippi Aggressive Peacemakers host storytelling

Published 12:31 am Saturday, June 10, 2017

By Christian Coffman

NATCHEZ — Changing the way the youth in the community interact with one another is not a simple task and often starts with small steps.

One Natchez organization, Mississippi Aggressive Peacemakers, is new as of last year in their efforts to curb local violence etiquette, but their members are confident that they can succeed.

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Earline Collins, founder of the MAP, said the organization has been gaining in influence.

“Everything is done in the faith that we will prosper; it’s called MAP because it started in Natchez, but we want to go throughout the state, eventually,” Collins said.

From noon to 3 p.m. every Saturday in June, MAP will host free storytelling  in Jack Waite Park, for area preschool through sixth grade students.

The beginning of each event will feature a speaker from MAP telling a story to children. Children will then be separated into four groups based on their reading levels and be read age-appropriate books.

Cartrell Smith, a mentor and counselor for MAP, said parents can be involved in the event, as well.

“We have stories for the parents to come out and help with,” Smith said. “They can bring a story in that they can read to their child and (we have) books they can check out to bring home and read to their kids.”

The counselor said MAP wants to encourage children to develop their reading and social skills so that they can learn to work together.

“Hopefully we’ll have a big turnout,” Smith said. “We’ve had plenty of replies from families from the area and surrounding areas. The community is excited about it.”

Collins said MAP encourages families to come out and make this a family event, by bringing their own beverage, blankets and baskets to make the event “like a picnic.”

“We have kids that don’t know how to read, and that’s a no-no,” Collins said.

MAP is made up of many kinds of locals, from ministers, leaders from other local organizations and school teachers.

Collins said anybody can join and encourages locals to come be a part of MAP’s mission: to “purge the negativity out of the community.”

“My main goal is to get the black and white communities together, to get them mixed, as long as they have a drive to better our community and their vision is similar to ours,” Collins said.

The founder of MAP said much of what the organization does is to try and bridge gaps in the community by teaching those willing to learn how to solve interpersonal issues in a peaceful and civil manner.

“Our goal is to do workshops on etiquette training and bring job fairs in, try to attract entrepreneurs and businesses so that the community can have something to do instead of turning to guns,” Collins said. “Our focus is to teach people how to use words instead of resorting to weapons.”

Etiquette training includes teaching proper introductions, speaking face to face and on social media and how to eat with good manners.

“I feel like this younger generation has ignored the moral standards and values that (MAP) stands for,” Collins said.

MAP has scheduled the first rounds of training at New Direction Outreach Ministry, starting Monday until July 28. The training is for ages six through 12 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will be $10 for the month.

Call 601-597-4696, 601-807-4688 or 601-334-5554 for information.