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Children thriving with Excel By 5

Kindergarten is an important step in a child’s life.

For many, it will be their first time away from home and for all it will be their introduction into a formal school environment.

Therefore to ensure children are prepared, Warren County became certified as an Excel By 5 community and is continuing to offer learning opportunities for those up to 5-years-old during the summer months, United Way of West Central Mississippi Executive Director Michele Connelly said.

“One thing we are doing is Day of Action,” Connelly said.

“Almost 600 children will be attending to learn all the great things there are about literacy, good health, good eating habits and how to remain safe in the community all while having a great time with Curious George and Sister Bear,” she said.

In addition to the United Way’s participation, Connelly said, businesses throughout town have been signing up to provide interactive activities for the children during the Day of Action.

Others in the community will also assist including the Vicksburg Warren School District and United Way partner agencies.

The Junior Auxiliary of Vicksburg will be bringing its Safety Town component.

“This is all quite exciting, and we are very thrilled to be able to host the event. This will be a wonderful day for children,” Connelly said.

Day of Action is scheduled for June 27 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Purks YMCA, 267 YMCA Place, and is free and open to the public.

Excel By 5 is also partnering with the library for their summer reading program, Connelly said, and a parent resource center is located on the lower level of the facility.

A community-wide baby shower comprised with parent resources is scheduled for July 25, and prior to the start of school, a back to school health fair will be held.

“The opportunities for children ages 0 to 5 during the summer months are definitely here, and as a certified Excel By 5 community it really is our responsibility to let people out in the community know about all these things and have the opportunity to bring their children to the events,” Connelly said.

Warren County became a certified Excel By 5 community on March 5, and in addition to summer programing during the school year, special development with early educators and parenting classes are offered.

“Excel By 5 has just been a wonderful opportunity for the community as a whole. It has brought a lot of people together with a similar focus making sure our children are ready for kindergarten,” Connelly said, adding, “The relationships that we have built through this has been absolutely amazing.”

Those who participated include the United Way and its partner agencies, the school district, doctors, nurses and businesses, she said.

“The list could go on to include people who have worked really hard to assure we are certified, and the really unique thing about this is that it has inspired us to continue to work hard so we can continue to build the programs in our community for these children,” Connelly said.

For more information on Excel By 5 as well as the program’s June activity calendar, visit unitedwayvicksburg.org/excel-5.

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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