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Poplarville becomes re-certified in the Excel By 5 program – Picayune Item

At Pearl River Community College’s latest luncheon, attendees had the opportunity to learn about a local effort to ensure children are ready for kindergarten.

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

Catherine Wilson, community coach at Excel By 5 Southern, said the goal 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 a strong future for the community.

Excel By 5 sets standards for parent training, community involvement, and for the care and health of a child. Becoming certified in the program is a way for a community to identify resources they can use to achieve these goals.

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

Even something as simple as playing “Peek A Boo” and talking to a baby regularly can help children start developing these skills, Wilson said.

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

Wilson said the responsibility for helping kids reach those milestones doesn’t just rest with the parent. Since children don’t come with instruction manuals, it’s the responsibility of everyone in the community, from the medical staff at the hospital who delivered that baby to the school teachers, in addition to the parents.

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

She said her latest assessment as a new grandparent is that her daughter, who as a teenager 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 in May 2015, and on Thursday at Lunch and Learn, Wilson presented local officials with a certificate commemorating the local’s recertification.