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Actress Rowell, children tour Central Fire Station

By Staff
STEADY NOW Meridian firefighter Eric Hardy puts an airpack on Erika Alexander, who toured Central Fire Station on Saturday as part of a cultural experience for disadvantaged children from New Orleans. Photo by Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
By Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star
Dec. 2, 2001
Erika Alexander steadied herself as the firefighter let go of the 30-pound airpack on her back.
Pint-sized Alexander handled the weight well. It was something she and the other 24 children in her group had never done before.
The group, from the House of the Holy Family School in New Orleans, was made of foster children and children from single parent homes and low-income homes. They arrived in Meridian aboard Amtrak, which sponsored the trip. They boarded Meridian's antiquated trolley and headed to the Bamboo Emu Farm, the Dentzel Carousel and Central Fire Station.
Rowell said the goal of the trip was to expose the children to experiences they might not otherwise see.
Rowell knows the hardships of being a foster child since she grew up in foster care for 18 years. Now, she uses her celebrity status as a voice for foster care reformation and advancement. Students in her foundation are exposed to ballet, the arts and music, avenues Rowell was fortunate enough to experience as a foster child and in which she credits her success.
While in Meridian, Rowell visited Sela Ward's Hope for Children, Union Station and went antique shopping along Front Street.
The trip is the second of four which brings disadvantaged New Orleans children to Meridian for cultural experiences.
Marianne Todd is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3236, or e-mail her at