Salisbury a finalist for 2016 All-America City Award

Published 3:42 pm Thursday, March 24, 2016

By Amanda Raymond

The city of Salisbury is one of 20 finalists for the 2016 All-America City Award.

The National Civic League announced the finalists for the award on Thursday. The award is given to 10 communities every year and recognizes neighborhoods, villages, towns, cities, counties, tribes and regions that involve community members in innovative, inclusive and effective efforts to tackle challenges.

The focus of this year’s award was on youth and the actions communities have taken to ensure that all children are “healthy and supported to succeed in school and life,” according to a press release.

The other cities chosen ranged in size and location, from San Antonio, Texas, the seventh largest city in the country, to Hartsville, S.C., a town of 7,000.

Asheboro was the only other finalist from North Carolina.

Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander said she is proud of the programs that the city included in its application.

One of the programs was Fit for Motion, a leadership program for second-graders. The program includes exercise routines, talks on nutrition and other health topics and games.

Alexander said the program even has its own cheer.

“It’s not only dealing with healthy choices in terms of their food, but also the other component, which is exercise … and making it fun,” she said.

Alexander also said the work co-principals Dr. Latoya Dixon and Dr. Michael Waiksnis are doing and plan to do at Knox Middle School was included in the application.

“We’ve already seen tremendous strides in terms of behavior modification,” she said, recalling a time when she visited the school. She said the students were respectful and well-behaved during an assembly.

The school will begin a magnet program for students next fall, and the co-principals plan to implement other changes in the future, including extended school days and individualized learning plans.

The Norvell Theater, which provides youth programs with Piedmont Players Theatre, was also submitted in the application. Alexander said the theater is a morale and self-esteem booster for children, and children also learn leadership, public speaking and teamwork skills.

“All of these programs are lifting up our youth,” she said.

Salisbury previously won an All-America City Award in 1961.

Now the city will work on a presentation for the next phase of the competition in Denver, Colo. Alexander said a group, including students, will develop a skit for the presentation that will showcase the programs and the city.

“But the great thing about it is it showcases the children,” she said.

A committee will also start working on fundraising efforts next week.

Contact reporter Amanda Raymond at 704-797-4222.