Editorial: Good luck in Denver

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 16, 2016

Let’s wish the Salisbury delegation luck as it jets off Friday for the National Civic League’s All-America City competition in Denver, Colo. Winning the prestigious designation would acknowledge the programs and services that organizations here provide for youth — and could enable the community to do even more.

Though the city of Salisbury and Rowan County Chamber of Commerce organized the city’s entry, the competition is about community initiatives and civic engagement, not necessarily government programs. The award annually recognizes innovative, inclusive and effective efforts to tackle critical challenges. This year, the challenge is children’s wellbeing. The 20 finalists will make presentations about what their communities do to ensure youth are healthy and supported in school and in life. Ten will win.

That is a critical issue within the Salisbury city limits and across Rowan County. The residual effects of the Great Recession have hit children the hardest of any age group; child poverty has spiked. Many groups and agencies stepped forward in recent years to boost health, build literacy and provide children with creative outlets. Contest rules required that the city’s entry focus on only three. Those chosen have demonstrated out-of-the-box thinking to improve the quality of life for children — The Norvell Theater, Knox Middle School co-principals and Fit for Motion.

Salisbury has many challenges. The new police chief faces a backlog of unsolved murders and empty positions on his force. Those are top priorities. But fighting crime is a multi-faceted task. Supporting programs that steer young people away from gangs and illegal activities is part of the crime solution — as well as the economic solution.

The success of the preservation movement here decades ago established Salisbury’s reputation as a historic and beautiful city. Residents take pride in that and show off our historic districts. Other cities followed our example.

Salisbury residents can also take pride in what might be called the children’s movement — the growing commitment to ensure all children are safe, healthy, eager to learn and encouraged to be creative. An All-America City Award would give that movement more momentum and boost the city’s overall image. It could also raise the city’s profile when it comes to economic development. Salisbury residents and their city richly deserve to be recognized for the initiative shown here in shaping children’s futures.