Corinth-Alcorn Excel By 5 approaching goal

By Lena Mitchell

Daily Journal Corinth Bureau

CORINTH – The Corinth-Alcorn County Excel By 5 program has reached 76 percent completion of certification requirements and is seeking volunteers to help achieve the certification goal by 2014.

“Our volunteers will help build partnerships and get the message out at events that ‘90 percent of the human brain develops between birth and age five,’” said Susan O’Connell, Excel By 5 certification manager.

Work in the program’s four focus areas of community involvement, family and parent support, early care and education and health has been ongoing with the help of many community organizations.

• Magnolia Regional Health Center: The Excel By 5 reading elves read stories to children at the hospital’s Winter Wonderland, this year planned for Dec. 14. The hospital also provides CPR training to the child care providers, and the health focus group, led by Penny McDonald of MRHC and organizes the annual Excel By 5 health fair at the Alcorn County Fair. The hospital also distributes about 50 newborn bags to parents of newborns each month.

• Alcorn County and Corinth school districts: Denise Webb-Harrell and Tanya Nelson are building relationships with child care providers through partner meetings. The districts also award necessary continuing education units to child care providers for training they receive.

• The Alliance: Andrea Rose and Gary Chandler have rallied support from the community business leaders and civic organizations.

• Kiwanis: Donated money to buy items for newborn bags that include items central to the Excel By 5 philosophy that encourage parents to talk, touch, read and play with their child.

“These four points emphasize the simple ways families can jump-start brain development, even in infancy,” O’Connell said. “Research has shown that 90 percent of a baby’s brain is developed before they ever enter a kindergarten classroom.”

Many people in the community, beyond those specifically mentioned, have been very instrumental in the program’s progress thus far, O’Connell said, and others are needed to get the program to its goal.

lena.mitchell@journalinc.com