Counseling Department extends wellness initiative at Dillon Middle School

Perdue Foundation
The Department of Counseling has been awarded grants to continue a wellness program at Dillon Middle School

As part of a collaborative effort among the Department of Counseling in the College of Health Sciences at UNC Pembroke, Perdue Farms through the Franklin P. and Arthur W. Perdue Foundation and the Walmart Foundation, will continue a project to provide social and emotional learning opportunities for students at Dillon Middle School.

This project aligns with the commitment of the College of Health Sciences to create wellness in the region.

Jonathan Ricks and Shenika Jones, assistant professors of Professional School Counseling at UNCP were awarded a $10,000 grant from the Perdue Foundation and a $1,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation. The grants will assist in the implementation of the Too Good for Violence – Social Perspectives curriculum developed by the C. E. Mendez Foundation. Approximately 740 Dillon Middle School students will participate in 10 weeks of enrichment lessons presented by UNCP counseling graduate students on conflict resolution, goal setting, identifying emotions, effective communication, and respecting self and others.

Funds from the foundation grants will enable graduate students in the UNCP Department of Counseling to continue to deliver the curriculum to students weekly.

“We are extremely grateful to the Perdue and Walmart foundations for continuing to provide financial support for this project,” said Ricks. “UNCP is dedicated to serving the community and providing exceptional training to our students. This project allows us to do both.”

The goal of the program is to increase social skills development, leading to a safer school and community. “We have a unique opportunity at Dillon Middle School because the majority of youth in Dillon will attend this school, which makes this campus ideal for longitudinal studies to research the impact of interventions like ours on the overall wellness of these students for years to come,” said Jones.

Middle school students will practice identifying and managing bullying situations as well as building bonds and relationships.

“Dillon Middle School is fortunate to be an educational partner with the Department of Counseling at UNCP for the second year in a row,” said Rodney Cook, principal at DMS. “DMS is excited to see the positive impact this program will bring to our school. We appreciate all the hard work these graduate students and their professors have put into helping our students become productive citizens.”

“We’re proud to continue our support for a program that helps youth develop much-needed social skills and the confidence to succeed in the communities where our associates live and work,” said Randy Brown, director of Perdue operations in Dillon. “We believe that collaborative partnerships like this help keep our communities strong.”

The mission of the Walmart Foundation is to meet the needs of the under-served by directing charitable giving toward its core areas of focus: Opportunity, Sustainability, and Community.