Morgan County sees about 20 pregnancies in young people between the ages of 10 and 19 every year. For each of the last two years, the Middle School has had a pregnant student.
For Audrey Morris, who has been the Director at the Morgan County Starting Points Center since 1999, those statistics are outrageous. “Whenever I hear of 11-year-olds, who are pregnant, or children being abused, it makes me angry, and that’s why I’m still here,” Morris says. “People don’t understand how if you are abused as a child it impacts the rest of your life.”
Morris applied to the Governor’s Cabinet on Children and Family, for the original grant to fund the Morgan County Starting Points Center after someone told her it would be a more effective way to work on the issue of teen pregnancy prevention. At the time, Morris, a Morgan County native, had been working on the issue with the WVU Extension Service because the county had the third highest rate of teen pregnancy.
Shortly after Laura Dice moved back to West Virginia in 2012 and took a job as the Coordinator for Keys 4 HealthyKids in Charleston, she attended a Kanawha County School Wellness meeting, where a parent came forward to say that his son wasn’t getting any exercise at school. His complaint was just one of many that Dice was hearing. Keys 4 HealthyKids advocates physical activity for children, so Dice began to really look at the claims.
What she found was troubling. Overall there was a lack of data about activity for students in the state’s public schools. For example, statewide, there is no requirement for recess, and sometimes it is taken away during testing periods. With no data, there was no information about which schools had recess and which didn’t. Anecdotally, Dice heard when there was bad weather, students wouldn’t go outside, even if they did have recess, for months at a time. Meanwhile West Virginia is the fourth most obese state in the nation, and about 18.5 percent of its young people age 10-17 are obese.
With three children, Jamie Gudiel knew the value of family resource services for the health and development of children, so she became a member of the board for the Family Resource Network in Monongalia County. While on the board, she was working two jobs. Her husband was working too.
But three jobs weren’t enough to keep the family with three children off of food stamps. Gudiel feels like legislators often think people just want to take advantage of the system, but in reality her story is more the norm for people relying on government assistance.
On August 23, last year, Martha Snider from Caldwell, just outside of Lewisburg, found herself at the Our Children Our Future policy workshop in Bridgeport, listening to West Virginia Senator John Unger (D – Berkley) tell the story of visiting his wife’s third grade classroom. He said he asked students if they would rather have more recesses or two lunches. One student told him he wanted two lunches, so he could take one home to his brother, who didn’t have any food at night. As Unger talked about his awareness of child hunger and involvement with the Feed to Achieve Act, Snider was inspired. As a result of the act, public school students will now get breakfast and lunch by the fall of 2015.
For Snider, the Northern Regional Policy Workshop was a revelation. Everyday West Virginians had access to legislators and were invited to partner with them to create state policy. Snider, a nurse, who is doing clinical work towards her doctorate degree through Walden University at the Rainelle Medical Center, was already working on health issues related to nutrition and exercise when her supervisor, Dr. Patricia Lally invited her to go to the workshop.
The Local Business Beat! A place where local business owners come together to network, share information, and enjoy good food and drink in one of our locally owned businesses. Our first business beat was held at the Joe n’ Throw in Fairmont.
Some of our business attendees were:
Accessible West Virginia
Adams Office Supply
All In Stitches
Arts & Treasures
Bridgeport Farmers Market
C.L. White Photography
Gaddis Event Planning
Joe n’ Throw
Mountain Craft Productions
Mountain People’s Co-op
We also had representation from:
Princeton, WV- Celebrate Princeton, an annual summer street fair, will mark its 9th edition this year, and it is set to be an exciting celebration of the past, present and future of downtown Princeton. There will be carnival rides, bounce houses and more for the kids plus a stellar performance lineup, street musicians, an “Impressions of Princeton” art show, quilt show, apple pie contest, car show, scores of vendors, the launch of Memories of Mercer Street- an oral history project, a movie in the park- Back to the Future- and much more.
A full day of performances from bluegrass to folk to gospel, blues and good ol’ rock and roll includes The Carpenter Ants, Clinton Collins Band, Chosen Generation Bluegrass, Tim & Maggie Mainland, Adam Cox & Friends, Distraction, The Graham Twins and Appalachian Youth Ensemble. There will also be several roaming street musicians.
Tuesday, June 17 – We announced exciting news at the Turn This Town Around – Grafton meeting last night! In order to support the work of the TTTA initiative and build on the momentum created by completed town improvements, The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation is awarding $75,000 in grant funding to each of the two TTTA towns, Grafton and Matewan. Fifty thousand dollars of the money will be awarded in $2,500 disbursements for mini grant funding for about 20 town improvement projects. On August 15, the TTTA sponsors, West Virginia Focus, WV Public Broadcasting and the WV Hub, will announce the winning projects from all of the proposals. Attendees at last night’s meeting were given information about applying for the grants and making successful proposals. If you missed the meeting you can get more information from the Hub’s Director of Community Strategies, Amanda Yager.