Learning from the young to protect our planet

My 12-year-old son is extraordinarily inquisitive. Since he was a little boy, he’s inquired about everything from politics and finances to sports and geography to space and the environment to all topics in between. He loves to learn and fully absorbs all the knowledge he acquires, to the point where he’s often concerned about the outcome or implications of what’s going on in this big, confusing world of ours. 

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month

Dr. Diana Messer, a forensic anthropology professor at Western Carolina University, is working on groundbreaking research that could drastically improve the methods used to estimate the timeframe of a child’s injury, which is essential evidence needed to identify and prosecute child abuse cases.

First reported case of MIS-C in North Carolina

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is reporting its first case of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19.

Helping kids keep out some of the noise

I’m a child of the 1980s. 

With side ponytails on full hairsprayed display, my big sister and I kept busy making mixed tapes, riding banana seat bicycles and collecting plastic charms for our charm necklaces. We stayed up late watching “Dirty Dancing” and “Indiana Jones,” swooning over Patrick Swayze and Harrison Ford. We heated our food in BPA-laden plastic, drank from hoses and ran around our neighborhood for hours before returning home happy and spent and ready to hurriedly eat dinner so we could be in front of the TV by 8 p.m. to watch “Who’s the Boss” or “Growing Pains.” 

Children’s books and thoughts for the holidays

Time to head off to Santa’s workshop and see what Christmas books he and the elves have in mind for the kids.

First up is Carol Matney’s St. Nick’s Clique (Page Publishing, Inc. 2019, 25 pages). Matney, a North Carolinian I’ve known for nearly 30 years, whisks us off to the North Pole for a look at how Santa Claus teaches his reindeer to fly and how he names them for their personalities. Cupid, for example, receives his name because “I am happy when we all get along and are kind to each other, and we help one another.” The largest and strongest reindeer is “lightning fast” and so named Blitzen, from the German word for “fast.” At the end of this charming tale, we meet a little reindeer with a glowing red nose, and Santa wonders “if … somehow, someday, there might be some way to include him in St. Nick’s clique.” Watch for the sequel.

A winding plot to a published children’s book

Tattoos often follow times of darkness or transition. When my mom’s cancer got to a point of no return, I realized how brief and fleeting life could be. Why was this happening to us? She was too young. I was too young. Woven into my grief and anger was an epiphany, a heightened sense of what it means to fully live. Around this time, I had “One Life, One Story” tattooed on the inside of my left forearm. It’s a constant reminder. We’re offered a single chance to craft the narrative of our lives, and we’re not always in control of the ending. 

Western North Carolina’s children are increasingly poor and hungry

For most, childhood is a time of growth, learning and stability nurtured by fertile environmental and economic conditions that ultimately prepare young people to become the leaders of tomorrow. 

In much of North Carolina, the future’s not nearly that bright. 

Ride on: Kids mountain biking park opens in Jackson

More than a year of planning, collaboration and plain old-fashioned hard work has resulted in a new kids bike park along the Jackson County Greenway, an accomplishment celebrated during a sunlit ribbon-cutting event held at noon Thursday, Oct. 24.

“This park right here, not only is it a tangible, concrete resource for kids immediately and today, but it also stands for, I think, effective and incredibly positive collaboration and partnership between our organization and Jackson County, which I think could materialize into other exciting things,” said Michael Despeaux of the Nantahala Area Southern Off Road Bicycling Association. 

Unhealthy debate: Medical experts debunk claims by anti-vaccination advocates

Education, litigation, big pharm, little children, doctors, disease, disability, death — the debate surrounding vaccination thrives at the intersection of some of the most contentious topics of the day.

It’s an emotional subject, to be sure, but it’s also one of the most rigorously vetted and empirically analyzed, owing to the scientific nature of medicine. 

Science program goes statewide: ecoEXPLORE program for kids now available in N.C. State Parks

A program that’s been getting Western North Carolina kids outside since 2016 is now a statewide offering, with a whirlwind tour of 10 North Carolina state parks over the next couple weeks celebrating ecoEXPLORE’s arrival at all 41 park units. 

“There’s a lot of benefits to being outdoors, and it’s something that we’re seeing less and less in adults and children,” said Jonathan Marchal, youth education manager at the N.C. Arboretum in Asheville. “A lot of times it’s almost like a competition — you can go outside and be screen-free, or you can go indoors and be completely immersed in a screen. I think one approach that is helpful is utilizing those items like smartphones as tools to explore the environment, and not just as tools to explore the environment but to engage kids in doing conservation work.”

Smokey Mountain News Logo
SUPPORT THE SMOKY MOUNTAIN NEWS AND
INDEPENDENT, AWARD-WINNING JOURNALISM
Go to top
Payment Information

/

At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.