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February 1, 2019

The Community of Petal, Mississippi was recently recertified as an “Early Childhood Development Community” by the state office of Excel By 5, an organization dedicated to early childhood development and school readiness. The announcement was made during the Petal Excel By 5 Coalition’s annual retreat, held recently at the Sullivan Barn in Petal.

In 2007, Petal became Mississippi’s first certified Excel By 5 community and according to coalition member Nadine Coleman, this is the fifth certification awarded to Petal, each lasting 3 years.

The Petal Excel By 5 Coalition is comprised of a team of local leaders made up of representatives from key community groups, including schools, churches, businesses, parents, hospitals, early care and education centers and government organizations. Petal Excel By 5 supports the community’s ability to enhance and develop resources to support families with children ages 0-5 through, both public and private.

The Petal Excel By 5 certification process identifies gaps in community resources, promotes community collaboration, volunteerism and economic development. The Excel By 5 certification requirements are divided into four groups: Community Involvement; Family and Parent Support; Early Care and Education; and Health. Subcommittees representing each group convened during the retreat to brainstorm and to update the Coalition’s strategic plan.

Currently there are 32 communities across the state of Mississippi that have been certified as “Early Childhood Communities” with Petal leading the charge, serving as a model for other communities through innovative programs and partnerships.

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