OUR OPINION: Youth Development Center a beacon of cooperation for change

Published 4:00 am Friday, August 11, 2023

The Vicksburg-Warren County Youth Development Center held an open house last week, and with it came the promise of a better tomorrow for Vicksburg.

Since the tragic shooting death of 13-year-old Carleone Woodland in January, the path to the center’s opening has been handled swiftly — something that can’t always be said about municipal projects. The speed at which the YDC came together should be taken as a positive sign: our local leaders sensed a crisis and took immediate action to address it. 

There is clearly a generational problem with crime in Vicksburg, specifically gun crimes. While it may seem as though we’re painting with a broad brush, it seems as though the 16 to 25 age group is more inclined to settle disagreements with gunfire than the “old-fashioned way.”

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“Back in my day, we just fought and made up,” is a common refrain, usually followed by “Kids these days have no regard for human life.”

Local law enforcement partners have also alluded to a central cause of crime being a simple lack of respect for one’s life and the lives of others. 

But Mayor George Flaggs Jr. had an idea to create generational change — and through the work of dedicated partners in the city and county, that idea has come to fruition. 

The YDC is meant to be a consolidated place for at-risk students and their families to access a wide variety of services, at no cost thanks to a voucher system. In theory, the center will “raise up a generation of productive citizens,” the Mayor said in a past interview. 

In addition to providing vital services to ensure the success of Vicksburg’s young people, the YDC is a beacon of cooperation between local government entities and agencies. Everyone bought into the idea and everyone did what they could to make it a reality. 

With the school year underway, we’re excited to see the many ways the YDC, under the leadership of Dr. Susie Calbert, will influence at-risk youth in Vicksburg. The community believes in this effort and the cultural change it could spur. 

The YDC has the tools to succeed — as citizens, let’s see what we can do to support the effort.