In a perfect world, every child would have a loving family and a safe home to return to at the end of the day, but it’s not a perfect world. The reality is that thousands of children are removed from their homes each year in North Carolina.
Foster care agencies continue to see the number of foster care cases increase and the opportunities to reunify those children with their biological parents decrease. It’s a trend many Western North Carolina counties are experiencing.
Franklin will soon be joining other communities around the world who are incorporating a love for reading with a love of the outdoors.
By Wil Shelton • SMN Intern
For Jeff Alt and his family, hiking is more a lifestyle than a hobby.
“After experiencing all the great positive physical and mental benefits gained from hiking, I wanted to share it with my family,” he said.
I should get over being astounded by the way the world works. And I’m talking about the good stuff, not the negative.
The package of stories that graced the cover of The Smoky Mountain News last week, “The Golden Children,” is almost allegorical in its arc. Staff writer Holly Kays traveled to an orphanage in a remote part of Bolivia to help do some construction work and spend time with the children. Her reporting about the orphanage — named Kory Wawanaca, which means “Golden Children” — its founder, Carrie Blackburn Brown, and the connection to Western North Carolina and particularly Haywood County, is so touching that it could never be scripted because it would come off as too heartwarming, too many people doing the right thing for all the right reasons.
It was an intense few days for Virginia Beach, Virginia, resident Seth. Eight miles of hiking, 4.5 of those bushwhacking, all with an overnight pack on his back. A couple of hours of rock climbing. Three more miles of hiking. And that was just day one.
Before the week was out, he’d log 6 more miles of hiking, 5 of canoeing and hours more of survival skill classes and drills. An impressive feat for most people, and Seth is only 14.
It’s 6:30 in the morning when 24 hours of travel ends with the plane’s landing in Bolivia, but even through the grogginess it’s not hard to see that we’ve arrived somewhere far, far away from Miami. Snow-crested mountains rise over the outstretched plateau. Drivers crowd the security exit, shouting “Taxi?! Taxi?!” At 13,323 feet above sea level, the air is thin and dry, with any activity more strenuous than a walk on flat ground leaving you gasping for breath.
But the trek wasn’t over. From La Paz we were headed to a children’s home in Tacachia, a town so tiny it doesn’t even show up on Google Maps. Getting there would involve a day of altitude adjustment in La Paz, three hours in a Jeep traversing 15 miles of steep and skinny dirt roads and reconciliation with the fact that the village’s lack of running water would mean outhouses and no showers for the next four days.
Carrie Blackburn Brown, who eventually founded Kory Wawanaca Children’s Home, graduated from Appalachian State University with degrees in dance and Spanish and a general desire to spend a few months abroad volunteering.
There’s something ingrained in our DNA, something seared into our psyche that triggers a primal sense of harmony when we escape four walls and venture into the great outdoors. Olga Pader feels that euphoria every time she steps out on a trail.
By Danny Bernstein • Guest columnist
When I first thought about taking my granddaughter, Hannah, on an outdoor experience, I looked at various intergenerational offerings but realized that she and I would be doing the same activities.
Lana Quinn of Waynesville has lost friends, been called crazy and was turned away from a pediatrician’s office because of her decision to not vaccinate her three sons.
Waynesville resident Janet Presson’s son was diagnosed with autism at 2 years old, shortly after he received his scheduled vaccines. She isn’t against vaccinations completely but feels like small children are over-immunized at a young age.