Poplarville becomes re-certified in Excel By 5 program

Published 1:21 pm Saturday, April 30, 2022

During Pearl River Community College’s most recent Lunch and Learn, attendees got a chance to learn about a local effort to ensure children are ready for Kindergarten.

Excel By 5 was an initiative started with grant funding from Chevron that helps communities ensure all children from birth to age 5 are ready to not only start their education, but also succeed as adults.

Excel By 5 Southern Community Coach Catherine Wilson said the aim of the program is to ensure all children are happy, healthy and ready to learn. Starting a life of health and happiness at a young age leads to a ready workforce and strong future for the community.

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Excel By 5 sets standards for parent training, community participation, and for a child’s care and health. Becoming certified in the program is a way for a community to identify the resources they can use to reach those goals.

Wilson said that 90 percent of a child’s brain development occurs before the age of 5. Developing those skills helps them grow up to be adults who have strong critical thinking skills, the ability to prioritize goals and the ability to control impulses. 

Even something as simple as the game “Peek A Boo” and talking to an infant regularly can help children start to develop those skills, Wilson said.

Competency in those skill sets also ensures that as adults those additions to the population will be able to juggle the responsibility of holding a job, while raising a family and engaging in civic activities.

Wilson said the responsibility of helping children reach those milestones is not just placed on the parent. Since children don’t come with instruction manuals, it is the responsibility of every one in the community, from the medical staff at the hospital who delivered that baby to the teachers at the schools, in addition to the parents.

“Excel By 5 is the table around which all of us gather,” Wilson said. “We want to invest in them because that’s our future.”

She said that her most recent assessment as a new grand parent is that her daughter, who as a teen didn’t think much of her mother’s parenting skills, now seems to think Wilson is a wealth of knowledge.

Poplarville became Excel By 5 certified back in May of 2015, and on Thursday during the Lunch and Learn, Wilson presented the local representatives with a certificate commemorating the local chapter’s re-certification.