09/26/05 — Wayne among 100 best for kids

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Wayne among 100 best for kids

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on September 26, 2005 1:46 PM

A banner hangs from the ceiling in the learning center at the Boys and Girls Club of Wayne County that reads -- "The Future is Here."

That phrase seemed especially appropriate today as Wayne County received national recognition for its commitment to its young people.

America's Promise -- The Alliance for Youth announced that Wayne County is a winner in the first-ever national competition that identifies the 100 best communities for young people in America.

More than 1,200 communities nationwide submitted applications in hopes of being honored by the group.

Mayor Al King and others attended a press conference this morning at the Boys and Girls Club on Royall Avenue to thank those who worked hard to earn the honor and to begin planning a larger celebration in light of the news.

"I know the passion all of you have for young boys and girls and on behalf of all the citizens of this city, thank you," King said.

Mary Ann Dudley, executive director for all the Boys and Girls Clubs of Wayne County, credited the community for the achievment, and said it took the work of many volunteers to make the honor possible.

Mrs. Dudley also recognized Sarah Wheeler, resources director for the Boys and Girls Club, whom she said led the effort that earned the recognition.

Mrs. Wheeler worked with city and community officials to put the application together before submitting it to the national organization. The application was then reveiewed by committee members, including U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue, United Way of America President Brian Gallagher and baseball legend Cal Ripken Jr.

Mrs. Wheeler thanked the people present who helped ensure Wayne County's success in the contest.

"I want everyone to give themselves a round of applause," Mrs. Wheeler said. "It is about time we got recognized."

According to officials from America's Promise, applications were received from all 50 states. Forty states were represented among the 100 chosen. They ranged in size from 850 residents to more than 2 million.

The only other communities in North Carolina to receive the award were Charlotte and Fort Bragg.

America's Promise was founded in 1997 after the President's Summit for America's Future. Retired Gen. Colin Powell was the founding chairman of the group.

At its formation, he cited five promises that all children should benefit from: caring adults in their lives, as parents, mentors, tutors, coaches; safe places with structured activities in which to learn and grow; a healthy start and healthy future; an effective education that equips them with marketable skills; and an opportunity to give back to their communities through their own service.