10/01/04 — Don’t stop now: Meeting at Best Grove may start something big

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Don’t stop now: Meeting at Best Grove may start something big

Sixty or so people from throughout Wayne County assembled Saturday to talk about a momentous issue — our youth. That gathering could signal the beginning of a great initiative. Let us make it so.

The purpose of the meeting was to encourage churches and church members to take a role in the lives of troubled children and teens. It is their duty to do so.

Some of the problems of the children were outlined at the meeting, held at Best Grove Missionary Baptist Church. The keynote speaker, Daryl Woodard of Wayne County Youth Outreach, mentioned teen pregnancy, crime, AIDS and, for many, a home environment that does not encourage them to succeed in school.

Churches should join schools in helping them develop morally and spiritually as well as educationally. Woodard noted that a church can help them in ways that a school cannot. It can, for instance, pray with them.

Beyond that, churches can, as some already have, establish after-school tutoring programs for children who are at risk of flunking. They can teach young parents how to rear their children. They can provide volunteer mentors, much as Woodard’s Youth Outreach program does.

The list of opportunities is long.

We now appear to need a sort of coordinating council to keep track of who is doing what, and to be alert to what needs to be done — the kinds of programs that are needed but do not exist.

No one knows the needs better than school officials. Dr. Willette C. Wooten, the federal programs administrator for the county schools and a member of Best Grove, helped to set up Saturday’s meeting. She or someone else in the school system could act as a liaison between the system and a volunteer council.

Not only would this provide a measure of oversight and coordination, but the existence of the council, meeting regularly, would help ensure that the concept does not die.

On Jan. 1, this newspaper proposed a single resolution for Wayne County. It was that we begin an initiative to help those children in our schools whose risk of failure is greatest, that we adopt a plan acceptable to all segments in the community and that we work together in harmony to implement it.

We are indebted to the people at Best Grove and those who were concerned enough to give their time to the meeting on Saturday. If we fail to follow through, if we allow what happened Saturday to be only a flash in the pan, we will fail not only the children but also our own responsibility.

Published in Editorials on October 1, 2004 10:28 AM