LIMA — After 29 years in office, Mayor Berger has given plenty of “state of the city” speeches, and the latest, delivered before the Lima Rotary Monday afternoon, highlighted some of the latest initiatives the mayor has pushed along in 2018.
Berger focused his talk along the need for political action, especially concerning civil rights, a recently announced Youth Commission.
A call to action for civil rights
While Martin Luther King Day was celebrated in the morning, Berger called for more than just kind words to celebrate the influential historical figure. As the national conversation around race continues to sharpen political divides, Berger asked the crowd to educate themselves of the history of civil rights to better understand the issues at stake.
“We have to also look at what else is happening right now, when we have speakers in any number of forums, including in the Congress of the United States, heralding white supremacy, actually talking about ideas that, in my view, are entirely reprehensible and do not represent the United States of America that I’ve been raised in and I love,” Berger said. “It’s really important at a time like this, that we take some actions. That we don’t just go to a breakfast and celebrate or say nice things at lunch like today.”
Mental health concerns and the youth commission
According to Berger’s speech, he once asked Lima City Schools Superintendent Jill Ackerman what was the biggest problem that schools face, and she quickly gave her answer — mental health support. The Youth Commission was created to help in that area.
Announced past Friday, the commission consists of roughly 200 organizations working together to curb some of the most pressing mental health issues affecting the community’s youth. From high rates of suicide to the reverberations caused by the opioid crisis, the Youth Commission’s first steps are to provide pilot after-school programs for students at Lima North Middle School and St. Gerard School. Berger said in the future, he would like to see the commission expand to provide mental health support for all of Lima’s youth.
“We as adults have to step in. We have to intervene. We have to create other ways for these children to have lives that are healthy — to have lives where they are motivated to seek excellence,” Berger said.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.