South Mississippi excels in becoming more child-friendly

By Meggan Gray – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Excel by 5 is a process in which communities work to become more child friendly, to help prepare their children for Kindergarten. It's a statewide effort, but south Mississippi is really setting the example.

In November, Moss Point joined Pascagoula and Petal to become the third south Mississippi city to be Excel by 5 certified. As Moss Point Certification Manager Patrice McCullum explains, the distinction benefits the entire city, and not just it's youngest residents.

"When you look at it from an economic stand point, you look at an industry or businesses wanting to come to Moss Point - If we can boast the fact that we are a certified child-friendly community, that looks really, really good."

It typically takes about two years to complete the requirements for certification. But the work doesn't stop there. The Excel by 5 coalition must continue to strive for excellence, so it can be re-certified every three years.

"We will have those parent education sessions, we will have town hall meetings and all those sort of things that we make sure we are continuing doing all the things to make sure our kids are healthy and happy," promised McCullum.

Bob Clay, the Sites Coordinator from the state Excel by 5 Office was in South Mississippi to review Moss Point's final application, and get an update on Biloxi's efforts to become a certified child-friendly community.

"Biloxi was moving forward as the timeline goes, so to speak, and I anticipate they'll be certified sometime next year," said Clay. "In addition to that, Hancock County and Stone County just both recently came on board as candidate communities for Excel by 5, so things on the coast are really moving along well."

Hattiesburg is also in the process of becoming Excel by 5 certified.

If you'd like to learn more about how your community can get involved with Excel by 5, click here.

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