In late February Kyra Wells, a sophomore at Logan High School in West Virginia, was at the State Capitol, meeting with staff of Governor Tomblin. She brought up an issue that is on her mind and on the minds of many of her peers in rural Appalachia: teen pregnancy.
“A lot of young women are getting pregnant,” Kyra said. “What could you do to prevent it?”
Last week a friend and I visited the memorial dedicated to the miners who were killed in the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine disaster. The massive 48-foot granite structure with 29 ghostly silhouettes is a powerful tribute to the lost miners and to the industry that has been so dominant in the Appalachian region.
Carrying enlarged photographs of their lost loved ones, family members of three of the 29 miners killed in the 2010 explosion at West Virginia’s Upper Big Branch mine spent June 6-7 in Washington, D.C., pleading with lawmakers to take action to improve mine safety and to stiffen penalties for mining companies that knowingly, willingly, and recklessly place miners’ lives at risk.
During their summer break, students from the ACE mentoring program in Logan County toured Southern Community and Technical College where they learned about all the different college options available right in their backyard. After the tour, we took a trip over the mountain to Blair Community Center and Museum. The students learned about the historic labor struggle known as the Battle of Blair Mountain, coal mining's effect on water quality, and what life was like in the coal camps of Logan County.
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