A community town hall meeting has been scheduled for 6 p.m. next Tuesday to discuss efforts under way to better provide health and education services to children up through age 5.
The meeting, in the theater at the Magnolia Civic Center, is sponsored by the New Albany/Union County Early Childhood Coalition, which is promoting becoming an “Excel by 5” community. (The Gazette is part of the coalition.)
Excel by 5 means just that. It’s an effort to get children from birth to age 5 healthier and better prepared for school. It identifies community needs and coordinates programs to fulfill them.
Mississippi school children lag near the bottom among the states in education performance and a key reason is that many arrive at kindergarten and first grade unprepared for learning.
Most never catch up to the level of other children and the result affects lots of things over time: the earning level of our citizens, the tax revenues available in the state and the overall economic development of the state.
The coalition includes people representing education, child-care centers, healthcare, business and local government. It already has identified some projects. One is starting a resource center for parents at the New Albany campus of Northeast Mississippi Community College. Another, put together by Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union County, expands the hospital’s annual Back-to-School Health Fair to include materials for age 5 and younger.
You can get more information about Excel by 5, and contribute your ideas, at the town hall meeting. We hope to see you there.