City Leaders "Making a Change"

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On Wednesday, city leaders announced the start of a program known as "Making a Change."

It is a program that provides a second chance for Meridian Public School students who have made choices that have resulted in expulsion from school. While students have to be selected for the program, officials say it helps in a number of ways.

"If they are out there without any education or support or safety net," MPSD Superintendent Dr. Alvin Taylor says. "A lot of times when that year is up and it's time to come back to school, they don't come back because we've lost them to the streets."

Taylor says he and other community leaders not only came together and talked about helping youth, they actually made something happen through the resources of everyone involved. But during Wednesday's press conference, many leaders pointed to Weems Mental Health Center as being the backbone of the project since they are providing a facility and transportation for students.

"We will do whatever it takes to provide these students with the opportunity so that they can hopefully have healthy, productive lives," Dr. Lee Lee Marlow with Weems Mental Health says.

Meridian Mayor Cheri Barry says since the students began the program in September, she has had a chance to visit them and see first-hand the change that is being made in their lives.

"They are so happy to be there," Barry says. "They are working very hard and they know this community is behind them and that this community loves them."

Right now, the program can serve up to 18 youth. Officials hope to increase that number if additional funding is made available.