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Saturday forum focuses on childhood poverty in Logan

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With nearly a third of young children in Logan County living in poverty, a group of people is aching for a solution in the coalfields.

A Logan forum is open to all West Virginians who are interested in participating in a community forum to "advance solutions to child poverty" on Saturday, March 16. The event begins at 11 a.m. at the Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College in Room A111.

"There is no quick fix to our child poverty crisis," says Lida Shepherd with the American Friends Service Committee, "But this forum is a way to hear from families impacted by poverty, advance initiatives already happening in Logan that address the roots of poverty, and generate a strong commitment from both legislators and community members to champion an end to child poverty.  We see this forum as the beginning of something great happening in southern West Virginia."

Various community members, including youth of Logan High School, are hosting the event and asking legislators to come forward and make public commitments to the Our Children, Our Future policy platform. The policies, a release from the organization states, includes Medicaid expansion and family violence prevention initiatives.

Other communites involved include the American Friends Service Committee, LEAD of Logan, Logan PRIDE, Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, Logan County FRN and First Baptist Church of McConnell. Delegate Rupie Phillips and Sen. Art Kirkendoll were confirmed to attend.

One of the students from Logan High School who is helping out is Kristiana Drummer, a 16-year-old member of Believing All is Possible, a youth leadership group involved in combating the problem of child poverty for some time.

"What motivates me is that I know of people that suffer and have to deal with that fact that their parents can't afford the things that others have," Drummer said. "I have a really big heart and I know that my BAPS group are willing to help with this cause because this is something close to all of our hearts."

Drummer said she has personally witnessed the problem of poverty in Logan County.

"Once I was walking through town during a summer event that we have. It was a fun day and basically everyone in Logan County was there. I was making my way towards the food area and then I look over in an small alley and I see a man with two small children. He had them in his arms and all three of them were wrapped in a small blanket that looked like it could barely fit around me.

"That broke my heart and what made it worse is that the little girl asked her father why they couldn't go to the festival and he said, ‘We are struggling and don't have the money for a hot dog.'"

Drummer said she also worries about the issue of teen pregnancy and wants to be proactive in her community to address those issues.

"People always say that we need to end it, but why say that when they don't try to put a stop to it," Drummer said. "Logan County offers no kind of child care facility and then people get upset with the fact that so many people are dropping out of school and can't provide a future for them and their children then the cycle continues."

Drummer said she plans on attending Harvard University or Duke University and possibly triple majoring in law, business and elementary education, with a minor in journalism.

I am a member of the National Honor Society and I. I would love to teach and touch people's lives and help them have a desire to do something with their lives. And knowing that I was a part of that is truly a blessing.