Some 200 black women from Iowa and six other states are meeting in Des Moines to share success stories on making their children better citizens. Felisa McGarity is co-chair of the “Jack & Jill of America” regional conference. She says the gathering lets mothers learn about ways to create constructive educational, cultural, civic, recreational, social and service programs for children. McGarity says these are “just everyday moms” who all have the same goals for their children. Jack & Jill of America was founded in 1938 to provide activities that stimulate and expand the mind and to enhance the lives of African-American youth from preschool to high school graduation. McGarity, a mother of two, says she’s been involved with Jack & Jill for several years in Des Moines. She says she’s gotten her children involved with community activities, including serving food at a local shelter and planting flowers outside the Des Moines Arts Center. McGarity says one focus of the conference is to train mothers to become better community advocates for seat belt use. She says the second-leading cause of death for black males between 15 and 24 is car accidents, because they’re not wearing seat belts. The top cause of death is homicide. Representatives from 18 Jack & Jill chapters are attending the meeting from: Iowa, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. The conference started Thursday and runs through Monday at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Des Moines.
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