Recently I was taken aback when a friend of mine (actually a Board Member) shared that her teacher had put in her folder an article I had written about eight years ago. It made me feel really good to think that someone had actually read the article and saved it, but also passed it on. This has gotten me to thinking about a book I had read several years ago, “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell.
In this book Mr. Gladwell talks about how little things can make a big difference. Well, I am starting to wonder if that’s what’s happening in our area. Another friend of mine, Mike McManus has written several books about strengthening the marriages which strengthens our communities. One of the points he brought out was that when there are communities with a marriage initiative present, you will see a difference in the divorce rates, teen pregnancies and school drop out rates.
As I was being asked recently why I used the statistics that I use to measure our success with the Healthy Choices Program, I must confess, I got my reasoning from Malcolm Gladwell’s book. He cited the example of New York City cleaning up the city by fixing broken windows and painting over graffiti. I believe we are bit like this in Northwest Georgia. Here’s How:
This organization began getting a message out about healthy marriages lead to strong families which lead to thriving communities, in 2004. Since that time, we first started working with couples that had no one to give them premarital counseling. We provided this information so these couples had an opportunity to receive the discount given on a marriage license. This was fairly successful, and started the process. We then started working with the youth detention center to help these kids realize what a healthy relationship is. When we realized that this was not necessarily the best way to get our message out we went in to all the health classes for 9th graders in Whitfield and Murray Counties. All the while we kept getting information out ton Facebook, twitter and any other way we could that marriage is good and you should get married and stay married. We have now reached 2014 and ten years since the time we started. Our message is getting out and people know who we are and what we stand for. But more importantly the message is getting out that marriage is important.
You ask me how I know this. Well, if you were to look at our statistics from Kids Count for Georgia you would see that Whitfield (where we are based and where the most people are that are involved with this organization) you would see a much sharper decline in the teen pregnancy rate. Some would argue that there are other factors we must take into consideration. Well, we don’t know of anything different that is happening in this area than this organization working to get this message out.
We hope we are the mavens. The ones with a message or resource for information. We have influencers that are going out to get this message into the community. And we hope we can get even more influence and make the trend back to strong healthy marriages rather than cohabitation. Mike said he saw this same phenomenon in other cities that had a strong initiative present.
So I’m taking it! We are an organization of MAVENS and INFLUENCERS and CONNECTORS. Help us get the word out. Marriage is important to our community. We can teach people how to have strong healthy relationships and encourage them to keep their marriages going. This gives our next generation a better chance to be successful. I believe very vehemently that it’s the little things that can change our culture. If we do a lot of little things such as Date night articles. Dating my Spouse, Teaching our teens and just encouraging couples to stay married we can make a difference in our community.
So, do you think it has made a difference? If so, how have you seen that we made a difference and if not how do you disagree? Thanks for reading.