By Josh Presley
The grand opening for the Jimmy Bryan 4-H Youth Complex will be at 10:30 a.m. Thursday.
Clay County Extension Director B.J. McClenton said the complex, located on Old Starkville Road in West Point, is meant to be a place for area kids to go and learn about the environment and ride horses, and there is also therapeutic riding for physically disabled children.
“There’s a riding arena, a shooting sports pavilion, an environmental pavilion with classrooms and a 4-H training pad for teaching ATV safety,” McClenton said. “There’s also a mile trail that runs through the woods near the center for environmental courses so that classes can walk the trail and have educational stops.”
McClenton said that all the different areas of the youth center were paid for through private donations or corporate donations, such as Mississippi Farm Bureau Insurance donating the money for the ATV training and Southern Ionics Incorporated donating for the environmental pavilion.
McClenton said that Tommy and Brenda Howard provided most of the funding for the riding arena in honor of their daughter Elizabeth, who is physically disabled. The Howards had been driving long distances for Elizabeth’s hippotherapy, which the American Hippotherapy Association defines as a physical, occupational or speech therapy treatment using equine movement.
“They donated the money to put up that building so they could have her classes in a much closer place,” McClenton said. “We’ve already got over 40 kids doing those classes three days a week out there.”
He said there’s no charge, and the youth center has a family friendly atmosphere.
Mississippi State 4-H Development Officer Morris Houston said the center was built for 4-H activities and 4-H will have top priority, but the facility will be available for other youth groups and community groups.
“This is something we hope benefits an awful lot of children,” Houston said. “This youth center is geared toward this community but we can see people coming from all over the state.”
Houston said the land was deeded to Mississippi State and 4-H Services in 2001 by Jimmy Bryan of Bryan Farms and that the youth center idea has been in development since 2008.
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