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Female Kickers from Ocean Springs will Blow Your Mind

IMG_2334-300x225 Female Kickers from Ocean Springs will Blow Your MindOthers might think having two female kickers on the football team is strange, but to Ocean Springs coaches and teammates, its just not a big deal. The two soccer-players-turned-football-kickers are Kaylee Foster, a senior, and Sydney Johnson, a freshman.  To the outside world, having female kickers makes a statement that “our ladies take athletics seriously,” Coach Ryan Ross said.

But to the team, “they’re just part of us, and we don’t look at them any differently,” he said.  “We look at them like athletes who contribute to our team.”

Both ladies have been kicking since the seventh grade and say the community has been overwhelmingly supportive of their time on the field. Foster, who plans to play soccer for Mississippi College, said it’s going to be hard to leave her teammates. “I’ve been doing this for so long and to think it’s going to be over in a few months is sad,” she said. “It was a little scary at first, but all of the guys have been welcoming. I don’t have a brother, but now I have 99 brothers.”

When she’s gone, “I just want them to remember that I worked really hard,” Foster said. “I got this spot not because I’m a girl, but because I worked really hard.” Johnson said she enjoys kicking because she gets to make new friends, and she’s thankful for the path Kaylee has helped pave for female kickers. “Now I get the same respect she did,” said Johnson, who has a brother on the team. “There’s a few people who think, ‘Oh my God! It’s a girl kicker!’ but really it’s pretty normal. It’s great.” Johnson appreciates good competition, she said, “and obviously Kaylee is a very good kicker.”IMG_2334-300x225 Female Kickers from Ocean Springs will Blow Your Mind

Coach Ross said having a stellar soccer program helps groom the girls for kicking. “Kicking is in their blood,” he said.  “They go above and beyond. It’s good for them, and it’s good for us.” Even though Johnson and Foster aren’t viewed as a novelty by the team, Ross admits, “it’s a big deal when you sit back and look at it.”

Cheerleader Chloe Kirby said having female kickers helps get the crowd pumped up, but the ladies represent much more than that. “The fact that there are two female kickers is an empowerment to women in general,” Kirby said.  “It sets an idea in other little girls’ heads that maybe I want to be a kicker when I grow up. I think it’s a hard task to find female kickers in general, but if you have them it sets you apart as a school that embraces females in athletics.” The cheerleaders even have a special cheer for Kaylee that uses her name, Kirby said. For any females considering a spot in a male-dominated sport, Johnson has some advice: “Just do you. Do what you want to do, and people will respect that.”

 

 

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Ocean Springs Mayor’s Youth Council Completes Recycle Bin Project

Youth-Recycling Ocean Springs Mayor's Youth Council Completes Recycle Bin Project

The City of Ocean Springs Mayor’s Youth Council recently completed their first large-scale final community project with the fruition of the Recycle Bin Project.

The project has been an idea of MYC Special Events Coordinator Caroline Wiygul since her first year on the council in 2016-2017, but the council was unable to complete it until this year. The council contacted several Gulf Coast businesses to ask for donations for the project. After the bins were delivered, MYC members hand painted each bin with a native Gulf Coast animal at the Ocean Springs Public Works Department.

“This project was a way for the youth of our City to say that recycling is important to us and to start something that City leadership can continue to expand if they want to,” Wiygul said.

Youth-Recycling Ocean Springs Mayor's Youth Council Completes Recycle Bin Project

The five recycling bins are placed around downtown with two on Government Street, two along Washington Avenue and one at City Hall.

“This past year’s council was very environmentally conscious and felt like hand-painted recycle bins would not only be a way to encourage responsible waste management amongst our citizens but would also be fun and reflect the artistic spirit of Ocean Springs,” said Cristina Werner, executive assistant to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen. “This project is important to our community because we have a responsibility as citizens to take care of our city, and the beautiful Gulf Coast that we get to enjoy every day.”

The Mayor’s Youth Council consists of 28 high school juniors and seniors from within the Ocean Springs School District. Each term lasts for one year. The council is funded by the City, but the council members fundraise year-round in order to maximize their annual budget. The council meets bimonthly and hosts community events and fundraisers and volunteers with the city’s special events.

“Being a part of the MYC is highly beneficial to our youth because it gives them the opportunity to exercise individual leadership skills, interpersonal communication with their peers and municipal leaders, public speaking, and to plan and execute special events,” Werner said.

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Donate Stuffed Animals Friday in Ocean Springs

Five-Days-of-Action-1 Donate Stuffed Animals Friday in Ocean Springs

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The Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA has partnered with Jackson County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) Inc. to collect toys for children who have been adopted from the local foster care system. CASA will be collecting large stuffed animals from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Blossman Family Branch YMCA on Friday, April 20.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and YMCAs across the country are participating in Five Days of Action from April 16 to 20 to raise awareness about how to prevent child sexual abuse. The local five-day awareness event concludes Friday with the toy drive.

“April is a perfect time to share with our community what everyday citizens can do to help,” said Frances L. Allsup, executive director of CASA, an agency of United Way for Jackson & George Counties. “The number of children in Jackson County coming into care continues to grow and we aim to meet that need. Every child deserves the support of a caring, consistent, trained adult to help them find a safe, loving home where they can heal and thrive.”

 

 

Allsup continued that they collect stuffed animals as a way to help these children simply be children and to provide them comfort with something familiar, such as a teddy bear. The stuffed animals and toys collected will go to the children that CASA serves.

Theresa Haynes, youth services director for the Blossman Family YMCA, said that they have a goal in mind for the number of stuffed animals they hope to collect during Friday’s event. “We would be very happy if we could get 100,” she said.

The Youth Services Department has displayed child abuse prevention boards at the Blossman Family YMCA this week during the Five Days of Action. Throughout the month of April, CASA is calling on members of the community to help their program serve more of Jackson County’s most vulnerable children.

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YMCA Healthy Kids Day to be held on April 28th

The Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA is holding a free community event, in conjunction with the Junior Auxillary of Biloxi/Ocean Springs, to inspire more kids to keep their minds and bodies active all summer long. Healthy Kids Day® is the YMCA’s national initiative to improve families health and well-being.  Games and activities will demonstrate, motivate, and teach families how to develop healthy routines at home.

Saturday, April 28, 2018 from 8:00 -11:00 a.m.

Ft. Maurepas Park, Front Beach, Ocean Springs, MS

Joey Conwill, Wellness Director, Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA–Blossman Family Branch, 228-875-5050

 

Healthy-Kids-Day-2018- YMCA Healthy Kids Day to be held on April 28th
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Spring Arts Festival: Herb, Garden & Art

The annual Spring Arts Festival in downtown Ocean Springs celebrated its 25th year last weekend. Over 150 vendors participated and, while the numbers are still being calculated, it is estimated to have had around 15,000 visitors. The event is looked forward to each year by festival-goers from near and far as well as the local gardening and art communities.

“We are so proud of the amazing turnout of 150 vendors and Nearly 15,000 visitors this year.  The turnout numbers are still being calculated. The weather was amazing and our community and visitors alike were able to get out and find unique arts, crafts and get their green thumb ready for Spring! -We were excited to introduce new vendors and a variety of demonstrations.” ~ Cynthia Dobbs Sutton, Ocean Springs Chamber – Mainstreet – Tourism Bureau

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Walk MS: Uniting Communities to Create a World Free of Multiple Sclerosis

fullsizeoutput_185 Walk MS: Uniting Communities to Create a World Free of Multiple Sclerosis

Andy Bell, President of National Multiple Sclerosis Society Alabama-Mississippi and Lt. Doug Adams of the Pascagoula Police Dept. at the Walk Kick-Off Luncheon at Aunt Jenny’s Restaurant in Ocean Springs.

Hundreds of local walkers raised money at Walk MS: Mississippi Gulf Coast last Saturday at Fort Maurepas Park in Ocean Springs. Walk MS is an opportunity for people to come together with friends, loved ones and co-workers to fundraise, connect and advocate for people affected by MS. Each dollar raised is one step closer to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s goal – a world free of MS. Since its inception in 1988, Walk MS has cumulatively raised more than $1 billion. Saturday’s walk was expected to raise more than $25,000.

“Walk MS is all about community – people coming together to raise money and show support for loved ones, colleagues and friends,” said Cyndi Zagieboylo, President and CEO of the National MS Society. “Funds raised have a direct impact in this community, for example – our MS Navigator program. MS Navigators are highly-skilled, compassionate professionals available to connect each person affected by MS to the resources and information they need to live their best lives.”

Multiple sclerosis attacks the brain and spinal cord, and it is the most common neurological disease leading to disability in young adults. The National MS Society is a gathering place for people with MS, their family and loved ones, healthcare providers, volunteers, donors, fundraisers, advocates, community leaders and all those that seek a world free of MS.

Sanofi Genzyme is the premier national sponsor of Walk MS. Biogen, Genentech and Novartis are also national sponsors of Walk MS.

Walk MS helps fuel groundbreaking MS research and provide life-changing services to those affected by MS through creating a supportive community of friends, families, and loved ones who fundraise and connect. To get involved you can visit walkMS.org, call (855) 372-1331, or email fundraisingsupport@nmss.org. For more information about multiple sclerosis and the National MS Society, visit nationalMSsociety.org or call (800) 344-4867.

About Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million worldwide.

 

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YMCA to Hold Annual Special Olympics Aquatic Events

YMCA-logo-for-site YMCA to Hold Annual Special Olympics Aquatic Events

Approximately 55 athletes from programs in Jackson, George and Greene counties, accompanied by their coaches and cheered on by friends and family, will compete in a variety of water sports, including assisted and unassisted swims, pool walks, 25 and 50 meter swims in freestyle and backstroke. Winners will advance to compete in the statewide Special Olympics.

Immediately following the games, participants and volunteers will be treated to lunch provided through the generous support of Eat Drink Love and The Roost of Ocean Springs and The Palace Casino of Biloxi.

The mission of the Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all. YMCA’s serve 20.1 million people, including 9.7 million children, through a broad range of programs. YMCA’s are for people of all faiths, races, ages, incomes and abilities. Financial assistance is available.

WHO:  Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA

WHAT:  Area 12 Special Olympics Aquatics Heats

WHERE:  Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA–Blossman Family Branch, 1810 Government Street, Ocean Springs, MS

WHEN:  Wednesday, April 11, 2018, 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

ON THE PROGRAM: 

Todd Trenchard of The Bacot McCarty Foundation will emcee the event.

Ocean Springs ROTC Color Guard will present the flag.

Pastor Heath Hillman of Emanuel Baptist Church will lead the invocation.

Rock U2 Academy of Popular Music will sing the national anthem.

 

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Pay It Forward Friday: Shellie Carter Helping Homeless Teens on the Coast

1505924577544 Pay It Forward Friday: Shellie Carter Helping Homeless Teens on the Coast

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Many kids look forward to their 18th birthday, but for kids in foster care their 18th birthday is often the day they become homeless. That is when they “age out” of the foster care system, and unless they have plans to go to college or have someone pick them up and take care of them many of these young adults are left with nowhere to go and end up in the streets. A new program through the Community Care Network, Breakthrough, aims to to rescue these homeless kids that are on the streets and give them the housing and necessities they need to help get them on their feet. 

The Community Care Network is a faith-based, non-profit organization located in Ocean Springs seeking to empower their clients and minister to their physical, emotional, and spiritual need, enabling them to move from addiction, homelessness, and/or incarceration to a stable and independent life. The network is made up of different branches, including a long-term transitional home-Sue’s Home. Sue’s Home helps women and children who have either been displaced by incarceration or rehab and are seeking to get their life’s back on track, so they may unify their family again.

The Breakthrough program began in South Mississippi in July and rescues these 18-to 24-year olds who have aged out of the foster care system and have no job or hopes of going to college, said Shellie Carter, director of the program for the Community Care Network. “Many of these kids have bounced around in foster homes or may come from an abusive home and turn to alcohol and drugs to cope”, she said. 

Carter mentions how she can understand and relate to how uncertain and scared these kids are. “I was a child of an addict”, she said, and at age 6 she and her sister were taken from her mother and placed in a foster care in Harrison County. “I’ve been in your shoes”, she tells the kids. 

The program was founded after receiving the Continuum of Care (COC) Grant through Open Doors Homeless Coalition, which is a coalition for the homeless in Gulfport. “When I met Diane Easley, (Founder and Executive Director of Community Care Network), I thought ‘wow what a blessing it would be to work with the community after experiencing what I have as a child in the foster care system and having addiction touch my life'”, said Carter. 

This is her 9th year working with non-profits and second year with the Community Care Network. At 47, she now believes life has brought her to where she needs to be to put her own past to rest and to take those late-night phone calls from kids in Breakthrough who need help or just someone to listen to their concerns.

Homelessness is a challenge in our area 

The homeless population in Ocean Springs has become a  continuous issue in the city. A 2015 count showed a 300 percent increase in homelessness among ages 18 to 24 in the six southern counties, most of them on the Coast, Carter said. In every other age category the numbers went down, she said. The current count of young people living outside in South Mississippi is 54. “I have people call me daily to try and get into the program and on average about 3 people per week”, said Carter. “We’re funded out through the end of the year and at our max capacity with our budget”, she said. “We don’t have any more room- the problem is that big.” There are currently 11 residents enrolled in the program. 

“There’s a lot of barriers that go into homeless youth. If they’re 18 there’s a lot of apartment complexes who won’t accept an 18 year old signing a lease”, she said. “Another issue is employment and transportation that we’ve come across while trying to help the homeless youth.” 

How it works

The homeless youth first go through a centralized intake through Open Doors Coalition and get all of the information to identify their level of need. “A score of one would be the least amount of need and if they score from five to ten they are really desperate”, she said. 

After determining their need, the next step includes finding an apartment so the young person has a warm, safe place to live. The program provides them with everything from furniture and cooking supplies and even food. “There’s a lot to getting a young person housed who has nothing,” Carter said.

Breakthrough also assigns a case manager who provides help learning how to apply for food stamps, search for jobs and even enrolling them in financial counseling. “It’s very overwhelming to 19-year-olds,” Carter said, since many of them don’t know how to cook or parent and “freeze” when asked to fill out job applications.

The program has had many success stories ike a young woman in Gulfport who was homeless and now has apartment and a high school diploma and plans to start junior college this spring. 

“It can happen to anyone”, says Carter. “So if we can all take our shoes off and walk in someone else’s for a day we can all get that perspective and relate in someway”, she added. “I’m sure at some point in life, addiction has touched someone you know or someone in your family and that’s where our human-ness comes in our ability to touch and reach out to these people and give a hand up, not a hand down”, said Carter. 

How you can help

The program is always in need of supplies for the program such as personal hygiene items, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant. Any leftovers are sent back out into the homeless community. “We make care packages and take them back out into the streets to pass out” said Carter.

For more information on the Breakthrough program or Community Care Network, visit their website at ccms.org.

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WAMA to Host 5th Annual Craft Beer Tasting Event

23154944_785458024983074_6310180869034845302_o WAMA to Host 5th Annual Craft Beer Tasting Event

Community members craving a unique place to enjoy local beer, art and music can attend the Walter Anderson Museum of Art’s annual craft beer tasting event set for 6 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 18. 

Now in its fifth year, WAMA Director of Development Corey Christy said the event has been a great opportunity for the museum.

“People get to come into an environment they might not have considered before and get to check out local beers they may not be aware of,” Christy said.

Christy added that the event was initially developed five years ago to expand the museum’s membership base to a younger crowd and for people to understand that museums are for everyone.

“There are folks out there that view museums as ‘hoity toity’ or something for the upper crust,” Christy said. “That is not what Walter Anderson was about. He created art that was intended to be enjoyed by the community at large, and we feel this event plays into that spirit.”  

The event will feature live music, great locally crafted beer and the art of Walter Anderson. Not only will attendees enjoy local craft beer, they’ll have the opportunity to learn about it from those who make it. Tickets are still available and are $15 each for members and $20 for nonmembers. Tickets can be purchased online here. Participants must be 21 years of age or older to attend.

Christy said the event is a great marriage of arts of all kinds and that attendees will have a truly unique experience.

“By attending the event, you are supporting one of the premier cultural institutions in the state and region,” Christy said. “You’ll also hear some great music and try new brews from local breweries as well as local home brewers. It can also be a good topic of discussion for your next Tinder date.”

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Ocean Springs High School Presents Award-Winning Production of “Inuk and the Sun”

26055861_10154847475330044_7856077433205051566_n Ocean Springs High School Presents Award-Winning Production of "Inuk and the Sun"

This weekend in Jackson County, families can beat the chilly weather outside and experience some indoor entertainment as Ocean Springs High School Theatre Department presents its award-winning production of “Inuk and the Sun.”

“It’s a great opportunity to experience the arts,” OSHS Theatre Department Director Chris Permenter said. “These kids pour their heart into their craft. It’s unique to find such a strong group of students who come together and create something beautiful.”

Permenter said the production has a cast and crew of 50 students, half of whom are actors and the other half serve as technical crew. The department does an entire season of shows, including three MainStage productions – a fall show, a winter show and a spring show, with four studio pieces in the spring by the advanced theatre classes.

“Inuk and the Sun,” an original story based on characters from Inuit mythology, follows a young boy named Inuk as he journeys to save his people and become a man. Inuk is the Inuit word for “human being,” and the plot echoes the universal experience of growing up and coming to terms with life and death. 

In his second year as director, Permenter said he has created a student-based program and tries to always choose a strong season that not only fits the actors, designers, and tech crew’s strengths but also their weaknesses –  to challenge them to become better artist and not just do shows that they are comfortable with.

“With the amount of puppetry, mask, and headdresses used in the show it takes a village to make it possible,” Permenter said. “The show is completely student-designed. My set, costume, props, makeup, and sound designer students started designing in May of 2017. It’s a very long process, but that’s why the kids love it – every rehearsal you find something new. The actors play spirits, northern lights, seals, and so many more exciting characters.” 

In addition, Permenter said the fall show is always the show used in competitions. “Inuk and the Sun” has earned OSHS a number of awards, including All-Star Cast, Best Director, Best Costumes and Best Non-Human Characters. “Inuk and the Sun” will also be taken to the Mississippi Theatre Association Festival in Columbus, Miss., from Jan. 11 to 15  to compete for the state title.

The department was also one of 40 high schools across the nation chosen to perform internationally the American High School Theatre Festival. Permenter said 30 students from the theatre department will be going to Edinburgh, Scotland, the first two weeks of August to perform its spring production of “Metamorphoses” by Mary Zimmerman. Much of the proceeds from the shows and other fundraiser events are going toward this once-in-a-lifetime experience for these students.

“It is very important to have community support,” Permenter said. “This small town of Ocean Springs is being internationally recognized at the largest theatre festival in the world. My wish is for the community to come together and support these kids and their hard work.”

Performances start at 7 p.m. on January 5 and 6 at the Ocean Springs High School Robert E Hirsh Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students. Those who are interested in donating to the student trip to Scotland can do so by going to the the American High School Theatre Festival website and enter a “Gift of Performance” or contact Ocean Springs High School.

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