Kernersville Cares for Kids (KCK) is a non-profit organization that supports anti-drug efforts within the Kernersville community. KCK has been in existence since 1998 and provides a community service to the youth of Kernersville.
Kernersville Cares for Kids was founded by the John Owensby publisher of Kernersville News, Dr. Don Martin retired superintendent of Winston Salem/Forsyth County School System, and Neal Stockton retired Police Chief of Kernersville Police Department.
Kernersville Cares for Kids recognizes the future of any community is its Youth. We know that adolescence is a period of time during which the risk for initiation of drug abuse is highest. We also know if the community works together with mission driven programs and we are able to empower our students to make informed decisions we can have a drug free school campuses, drug free community, and families will not have to endure the negative effects of drug use and addiction.
KCK provides incentive money to each school; this allows each school to use their money however they see would benefit their school anti-drug program. KCK measures its program success by looking at the percentile of students who sign an anti-drug pledge within each school. "It’s My Call" and "It’s Our Call" is a school system wide anti-drug program that encourages students to pledge to be drug free. Within this program a percentile of students are randomly tested for drugs. If a student tests positive, the school system does not penalize student, but insures student's situation is evaluated and the parents and student are given an opportunity to help their given situation.
KCK students interacts with the community by participating in programs such as setting up a booth at Leadership Kernersville (Non-profit Organization Day), interacting with youth and adults at a Booth at Spring Folly, and handling out youth incentives from a Float in the Kernersville Christmas Parade.
Approximately thirty students from East Forsyth High School, Glenn High School, East Forsyth Middle School, Kernersville Middle School, and Southeast Middle School participate in the leadership course each year. These students meet each month and engage themselves in leadership topics instructed by Renee Rogers at Forsyth Technical Community College at Swisher Campus in Kernersville. These students go back to their respected schools and lead their schools student efforts to create an atmosphere where students lead by example and “Say No to Illegal Drug use”.
KCK invites approximately 60 students from local middle and high schools to attend an educational experience each year called the “Rat Brain Experience”. These field trips leave from the schools and occurs at Piedmont Triad Research Center in Winston Salem. The of Physiology and Pharmacology at Wake Forest School of Medicine sets up hands on learning stations which includes; a human brain station, a station which shows an on-line simulation of the effect of drugs in the brain, an operant conditioning station, and a station showing how researchers can manipulate environment to the see how it changes vulnerability to substance abuse. Graduate students from both the Neuroscience and Physiology and Pharmacology departments discuss how the research here is investigating the neural basis of drug addiction.
KCK for the past few years have teamed up with Forsyth No'Bacco and participating in their youth anti-tobacco program. Students from KCK program invest their time into educating and spreading the word about negative health aspects of tobacco products, encourage students to resist peer pressure and insure all students know all use of tobacco products could have a negative effect on one's life. Their long range goals are to influence the culture of youth and the community including businesses to lower the use of tobacco products by youth within our community. Participation in “Kick Butts event”, “Cigarette Butts Cleanup Competition” and “KCK Poster Contest” are just a few of programs KCK students are involved in each year.
Kernersville Cares for Kids annual fundraiser occurs each April which is called “KCK Lunch and Listen event”. Each of the local schools alternate hosting the event. KCK works hard to bring a quality guest speaker to event that can provide a message that shows students that their decisions have an impact on theirs and theirs family lives. Making correct decisions on drug, alcohol, and tobacco use during their youth is very important. Students engage the audience by putting on a skit or show their passion by bringing the anti-drug message down to day-to-day conversations with local business leaders. Business leaders buy a table of six tickets and most donate one seat back to KCK so more students are able to hear the important message by guest speaker. Winston Salem / Forsyth County School TV station records event and it is telecasted on their station so parents or other community members may also get the message that is given.
KCK has established the “Doug Kiger Student Leadership Scholarship” program where a student from each local high school that is planning on furthering their education may apply for a five hundred dollar scholarship. A student who has demonstrated within his/her high school years an attitude of anti- drug conscience and helped the school officials permeate this message throughout the school and its students qualifies for application process.
Each year Kernersville Cares for Kids awards a “Patty Jo Sawvel Volunteer Award” to Kernersville business or to individual(s) who has demonstrated their community connection by supporting KCK in various ways. Some give their money by supporting fundraising efforts or they may just volunteer their time on projects of KCK. In general KCK recognizes that when a business or individual who has helped KCK achieve its mission goals by volunteering; they should be recognized within community. During the KCK Lunch and Listen event KCK awards a plaque(s) and acknowledges the efforts of individual(s) or business(s) who has supported this community program.
Kernersville Cares for Kids recognizes that the service they provide the community is an important one. They also understand that without community support their programs could not exist. A peer driven student program is a must to be successful. Without the relationship between the Kernersville News, Winston Salem / Forsyth County School System, Kernersville Police Department and other businesses within community KCK could not provide this service. KCK will continue to inspire students and engage the community to embrace the mission of KCK of students being drug free.
Our visions are to eradicate illegal drug use by Kernersville Youth by engaging community support and empowering students to create and maintain a drug free environment.
Strengthen KCK’s relationships between students, schools and community so our youths become drug free and healthier.
Help community by informing, encouraging, and empowering Kernersville’s Youth to stay drug free.
Help create a youth environment where students “Lead by Example”
Our current goals and objectives are to: Empower student leaders from each school to increase “IMC” pledges each year.
Provide opportunities for students to engage in conversations with their peers about illegal drug use.
Provide leadership learning opportunities to student leaders within each middle and high school in Kernersville area.
In early 1996 the Kernersville News lead by its publisher John Owensby wanted to perform a community service for Kernersville and at same time possibility earn a North Carolina Press Association award. Patty Jo Sawvel was given the task by newspaper to write several articles and the topic of “Drugs in Schools” was selected. Dr. Don Martin authorized a 15 question drug survey be administered to students at East High and Glenn High schools. 1706 surveys were processed. The student surveys resulted in, students believed drugs were present in the Kernersville schools above the national average and thus a problem. Patty Jo’s articles started being published in June 1996 in the Kernersville News. When asked, parents believed illegal drug use by students would be below national average and basically not a problem within Kernersville area. In 1997-98 school year schools continued to discuss this issue and community did not get involved much. At the start of 1998-99 school year the Winston Salem/ Forsyth County School System implemented a two tiered anti-drug program called “It’s My Call” and “It’s Our Call” within high schools. This program supported random drug testing to a percentage of students and a program behind scenes where students who test positive receive assistance in confidence. This program was mirrored after an anti-drug program started at Carver High School several years earlier. About this same time Police Chief Neal Stockton started a policing campaign called “Zero Tolerance to Drugs” within our community.
In the fall of 1998 John Owensby Publisher of Kernersville News, Dr. Don Martin Superintendent of Winston Salem/Forsyth County School System and Chief Neal Stockton from Kernersville Police Department all got together and became the founders of Kernersville Cares or Kids. These individuals reached out to community for support of the concept that Kernersville students can make a difference in drug use within our schools and community. Some of KCK’s first objectives for this school year were to raise money from community support to provide incentives at the two schools to encourage students to participate in the “It’s My Call” program. They wanted T-shirts with a school message. Police Department volunteered to sponsor a victory party for school who had the highest percentage of “It’s My Call” pledging students. At the beginning of school year 2000-01 Dr. Don Martin requested his middle schools to become more involved in the “It’s My Call” program. Middle schools had been in program since 1998-99 school year but endowment was small. On April 10th 2001 Kernersville Cares for Kids was recognized by IRS to be a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization.
On May 30, 2002 forty middle school students attended the first “Rat Brain Trip” sponsored by Wake Forest University. This program has continued each year involving middle and high school students.
On May 15, 2008 Kernersville Cares for Kids held its first “Lunch and Listen event. Guess speaker was Wake Forest Coach Dino Gaudio. This event was a fundraiser. In the 2009-10 school year KCK started its Student Leadership program. Kelly Hall and Wendy Ward parents of student leaders volunteered to co-chair this program that met on Saturday mornings at police department. Carter Maffett designed the “Many Hands – One Voice” mural that is currently displayed at all schools that participate in the KCK program.
In the 2010-11 school year KCK started its scholarship program. First scholarship was a $500.00 scholarship that was given out to an East Forsyth High School student.
2014-15 school year KCK teamed up with Forsyth No'Bacco group for the first time where KCK helped bring the student anti-tobacco program to Kernersville area.