BON SECOUR, Alabama – Imagine you are a ten year old kid. Before the oil spill you could do almost anything you wanted. In the eleven months since things have started to change. No more fishing or swimming. Things at home have started to fall apart and there are money issues.
Especially for kids in Bon Secour lives have changed drastically and their school has become their life saver.
“This is where they feel the most comfortable now. Where it used to be at the home where their safety net was now it’s our school.” Donis Johnston is a fifth grade teacher at Swift Elementary School and has seen the change.
“Things at home aren’t what they used to be and they need someone to talk too and they are acting out. Their behavior has changed.”
Johnston says more kids are asking to talk to counselors and they are at the highest rate of free and reduced lunches in the history of the school.
“These are generational students here. Their parents have been in the industry for generation after generation and once that is taken away then their whole lives have been disrupted.”
That disruption is also being seen in the number of calls for help at “Project Rebound.” Last month,196 phone calls for assistance so far this month more than 600. Most of them from men according to Ronnie Northcutt. “When the males start calling and requesting help that’s an indicator in itself that things are not going well.”
For kids, what is happening in their lives just isn’t adding up says Johnston. “Sometimes, I feel like I have taken on more of a father figure role during this crisis because I do find that they come to me more often than they used to just to talk.”
Being a kid in Bon Secour isn’t just child’s play anymore.