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MATTOON -- Residents are invited to learn about the Mattoon in Motion community planning effort during a town meeting at 5:30 p.m. March 8 at the Mattoon Area Family YMCA.

Interested participants will be encouraged to sign up and volunteer with the action team that closely relates to their interests or areas of expertise. Mattoon in Motion's six goal areas are workforce training, economic development, tourism promotion, youth development, parks and recreation upgrades, and housing improvements. Food and refreshments will be served by Mattoon restaurants, and entertainment will be provided by local artists throughout the evening.

Last fall, the Mattoon Chamber of Commerce and the Mattoon Area Community Foundation enlisted the help of the MAPPING the Future of Your Community Program to take a proactive approach in planning for the future of the community. The MAPPING program is offered through the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at Western Illinois University.

Through a series of MAPPING sessions, a cross-section of approximately 60 residents developed high priority goals for the future of the community and a plan for achieving them. Each long-term goal has an action team working on projects specifically designed to achieve this goal. The March 8 town meeting is an opportunity for all community members to learn more about the goals and get involved by joining an action team.

"It has been a pleasure to work with such an enthusiastic and engaged group of community members, and we look forward to seeing all of the future accomplishments of Mattoon in Motion as the community works together to achieve their vision for the City of Mattoon," the group's facilitator, Gisele Hamm of the Illinois Institute of Rural Affairs, said in a press release.

MAPPING participant Kris Maleske, who is principal of Williams Elementary School, said in the press release that, as an educator, it is imperative to know how to help students learn and grow. He said educators do this by checking for understanding on what students already know and what has been previously learned and experienced. He said this gives educators a strategic starting point as they then build relationships and learning activities tied to students' interest areas.

"Similarly, the Mattoon in Motion group has given the opportunity for the Mattoon community to become engaged in a (MAPPING) project that will tie in interest areas along with building strong relationships with each other for the purpose of growth and development. Excitedly, this will give Mattoon and East Central Illinois our needed starting point of purposeful planning, while we learn and grow together,” Maleske said.

The town meeting will include short presentations by invited guests, members of the MAPPING program staff, and representatives from each action team. There will be time for those in attendance to browse booths set up by each team and to learn more about the goals set and their proposed projects.

More information about Mattoon in Motion and the town meeting is available by contacting the Mattoon Chamber at 217-235-5661 or matchamber@consolidated.net.

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