Improved psychiatric health care and enhanced job opportunities for young people emerged as new initiatives Monday during the 18th edition of the Maryville Citizens for Community Action annual meeting.
Always held early in the year, the gathering brings together representatives from about 40 local civic groups, charities, clubs, schools, social service agencies and economic development organizations in an effort to share ideas — and potentially resources — related to community betterment.
This year's round of presentations included several new or expanded programs that will center at least partially on improving the quality of life for young people.
Rita Miller, community relations director at St. Francis Hospital & Health Services, said the hospital-sponsored Community Health Needs Assessment Committee has set two leading priorities for 2013: reducing obesity among both adults and youth and creating more access to psychiatric care.
She said St. Francis has already signed contracts with two psychiatrists who will open practices in Maryville late this summer. Currently, Nodaway County has only one psychiatrist, Dr. Attaullah U. Butt, who treats only adults.
One of the new physicians, however, will offer psychiatric services to children and teens, while the other will serve to double the number of doctors currently available to patients over 18.
The anti-obesity campaign is still in the planning stages, Miller said, though the hospital's recent health fair had a lose-weight theme.
Another youth-centered effort was introduced by retired Northwest Missouri State University administrator Bob Bush, who offered a brief sketch of a regional employment initiative, known as "e2," which is being organized by the Heartland Foundation in St. Joseph.
Bush, a non-voting member of the Heartland board, said e2 is intended to serve as a two-way conduit between employers and potential workers between the ages of 16 and 29.
He said too many young people have the perception that certain jobs are "too low" to provide viable employment, and added that e2 programs will seek to erase this prejudice by connecting youth with "their community's meaningful work" in agriculture, manufacturing, the service industry and retail.
To accomplish this, Bush hopes to bring representatives from business and education together in ways that help young workers "see the opportunities that the workplace provides for them to build a future."
"This is all about successfully connecting the youth's learning environment to their community's meaningful work environment," he said.
On other fronts during the MCCA luncheon, staff members from the Children & Family Center, a domestic abuse shelter, introduced the IMAGE program, an effort to support girls between the ages of 13 an 17 with regard to self-esteem and positive life choices.
IMAGE, which stands for "Importance Mentors Awareness Growth Encouragement," is to rely on interns and volunteers drawn from the community, student organizations and Northwest Missouri State University.
Page 2 of 2 - Other initiatives planned for the coming year include:
∙Efforts by Nodaway County Economic Development to attract development of independent living opportunities for older adults and to seek funding for a Nodaway County Community Foundation.
∙A renewed call for volunteers by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Nodaway County, which currently has a waiting list of 23 young people in need of mentoring companions.
∙Construction of a new dock, an additional guest cabin and a new RV campground restroom facility at city-owned Mozingo Lake.