Mississippi Action for Progress held a community forum Tuesday to discuss improving services to youth in Lauderdale County.
City and county elected officials, along with those from area Head Start centers, schools, and community organizations gathered at the Charles Young Head Start Center to address problems, solutions, and things that are working with children.
Organizers say they hope this forum will lead to improved services for all children.
The goal of this forum is to have every organization and government body represented working together to improve Meridian and Lauderdale County. Officials say bringing all of these parties together helps to find where the biggest obstacles with our youth lie.
"A divided community. I think that if I had one obstacle that I would love to get down, the walls of division in our community, so that everybody is at the table," said Mayor Cheri Barry. "Everybody is working around the table. That there's no parties, no race, that we're all one community. And I think that we're moving in that direction as a city, and I look forward to the future of Meridian, Mississippi as one Meridian."
"I think the biggest obstacle for the youth in our community today is education as the first priority," said Joe Norwood, president of the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors. "And I think parental guidance is another thing, that we need to bind those two together, and once we do that, we should to be able to provide the service that our children deserve."
Officials say overcoming these obstacles won't happen overnight.
"Very much so, long-term solutions because certainly as family needs evolve and different things happen, we want to just build these relationships to continue on as long as it takes," said Peggy Johnson of Mississippi Action for Progress.
Education, mental health, health care, and other major topics were discussed at the forum.