My Turn: Christine Gray — Second Step Program helps over 1,400 local children

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 31, 2023

By Christine Gray

Families First’s Second Step is an evidence-based program that teaches children how to develop social-emotional skills, which allow them to have empathy, respect and the ability to manage emotions and solve problems.

I thought about Second Step as I watched the evening news, where an 11-year-old child shot two 13-year-olds following an altercation in the school parking lot. We learned that this young child was being bullied by the others and he was running from them to get to his car where his mom had stored a gun for protection. You have to wonder what was running through this young man’s mind — how scared he was and how tired he was of being mistreated. I often wonder if some of the younger generation had the opportunity to learn these social-emotional skills growing up, would some of their decisions be different?

I am grateful to United Way and our generous community that supports providing a year’s worth of weekly lessons to over 1,400 children (ages 2 to first grade) in a dozen schools. For $125 per child, the Second Step program teaches social-emotional skills weekly and promotes their mental health and well-being as we teach problem-solving skills to our children at a young age. For example, when our children ask “why,” it does not always mean they are being disrespectful. They are taught through a Second Step Lesson how to ask for what they need and want respectfully.

For every dollar you donate, you invest in the positive outcomes of our little ones. I’m so thankful for our United Way partnership and for their tireless efforts to promote the mental health of our children. We couldn’t do what we do without them — please give generously to our United Way!

To donate, go to or call 704-633-1802.

Christine Gray is Families First NC-Inc Second Step/Early Learning Program manager.