GREENWOOD, Miss. — Basketball and motivational speeches are teaching responsibility to some teens and pre-teens in Mississippi.

The Greenwood Commonwealth reports ( ) that a few dozen boys ages 10 to 15 are taking part in a program that started in March at the Greenwood Community and Recreation Center.

Michael Bland, a volunteer, has worked more than 20 years as a high school sports referee. He says he is already seeing a transformation as the young men are learning to be respectful of adults and of each other.

They have heard speeches from coaches and police officers, among others.

The program is sponsored by the Mississippi Community Education Center of Jackson and the Family Resource Center of North Mississippi of Tupelo. Together, these groups form Families First for Mississippi.

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