Murray/Calloway County, Kentucky

Murray-Calloway County combines a low crime rate and low cost of living with scenic beauty and a warm, inviting atmosphere. The city schools continually rank in the top 20 districts (state assessments) and have been selected for the 13th year by SchoolMatch for the "What Parents Want Award." The county schools placed first in the 2A speech championship, first in Japanese in state, first in three individual state championships in track, and first in Future Farmers of America public speaking.

Community leaders met and developed plans for a Council of Youth Leaders. The mission of the Council for Youth Leaders is to be a collective voice for youth to promote the successful development of themselves, their peers, families, and community. The goals include establishing and developing a link between adults and youth in Murray/Calloway County; creating, advising and promoting activities that benefit youth; advising the city and county on present and future projects involving youth; and striving to be a united voice for the youth in the community.

More than 100 organizations and churches provide services in the community. The Calloway United Benevolent Services, founded in 1995, brings every public service organization in the area together to make sure resources are being used to help the community as effectively as possible. Calloway County Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, created in 2001, has strategic plans allowing community partners to collaborate and combine resources to focus on youth and substance abuse.

Positive health outcomes stem from favorable behavioral and social factors. Murray-Calloway County has a relatively low percentage of uninsured residents, which helps to increase access to health care. Preschool and Head Start programs serve primarily low-income children through five years of age. By partnering with local schools, a high quality program for young children and families is provided. Services allow early identification and intervention. The program ensures all children have a complete physical, up-to-date immunizations, dental and eye exams, and screenings for lead, hemoglobin and sickle cell. Nutritional and growth assessments are completed. A BackPack Program is utilized to discretely provide food to underprivileged students in preschool to fifth grade when school is not in session, particularly during weekends and holiday breaks. A six-week summer feeding program called Summer in the Park provides lunch every weekday at the park and four additional county sites.

Beginning in sixth grade, students become involved by exploring careers and finding careers that match their skills and interests. Ninth Grade Workforce Sessions, a partnership of the Career Discovery Center and local high schools, encourages ninth graders to develop skills that will be marketable. Expectations and needs are determined by a survey of employers and discussed during the event. Specific career counseling is available at the secondary schools.