It affects one in three children in West Virginia.
It costs the state $3.9 billion.
It’s an issue that continues to grow.
As Stephen Smith, director of West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, said, “It’s affecting all of us in one way or another.”
The “it” is poverty.
And a group of social agencies and concerned citizens is doing something about it.
But it won’t be a simple task. As Smith pointed out, 48 percent of West Virginians live below self-sustainability. That means they don’t make enough money to get by without government help. And it means nearly half the state is working or is in and out of jobs, yet still doesn’t make enough to get by.
Smith called the figure “shocking.” As director of West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, a statewide child health and child poverty advocacy group, he sees the issue firsthand.
“There is a very powerful myth that poverty is something that afflicts only a minority of us, and that those people deserve it,” Smith said. “What we’ve learned over and over from community meetings and statistics is that frighteningly living at or near the poverty line is becoming the norm for West Virginians.”
That’s where “Our Children, Our Future: The Campaign to End Child Poverty” comes in. The coalition is planning its strategies for next year, all with the goal of improving the health of children and families in West Virginia.
Again, the issue is one that affects each of us.
As Smith pointed out, the cycle of poverty creates a ripple effect in the state’s economy. When good-paying jobs are plentiful, people spend their money and the economy benefits. But when times get tight, people give up what they think are nonessentials — things like eating out or going on shopping sprees — and the whole economy suffers.
And sadly, the issue is not one that’s new in the Mountain State.
“About 40 years ago, there was an onslaught on families in West Virginia,” Smith said. “Compared to then, now there are fewer jobs per capita. They pay less, are harder to get and much, much harder to keep. It’s become insanely harder to find and keep a job. Meanwhile, the cost of things has gone up and support systems (family, church, unions) have spread out and become dispersed.”
As groups like the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition work to bring children and families out of poverty, we are encouraged by Smith’s simple but heartfelt promise: “We’re trying to figure out in small ways and big ways how to address this problem. We are 100 percent serious and unrelenting when it comes to working on things where we can actually make a difference.”
Poverty is clearly a big issue in West Virginia, and it’s one that is unlikely to disappear without a fight.
But having people who are committed to making a difference goes a long way toward winning the battle.
It affects one in three children in West Virginia.
‘Pothole blitz’ badly needed service coming in West Virginia
Hopefully, the heavy snow and extremely cold weather of January, February and early March are in the past.
Remnants of the harsh winter, though, remain. They’re faced each day by the state’s drivers.
Potholes have West Virginia’s roads in their worst condition in years, and the damaging freeze-thaw cycle is not over.
‘The issues are complicated’ with e-cigarettes
E-cigarettes have been around for about seven years.
But you’d be shocked at how long the idea for the the tobacco-less product has been around.
“A primitive, battery-operated ‘smokeless non-tobacco cigarette’ was patented as early as 1963 and described in Popular Mechanics in 1965,” Megan McArdle wrote for Business Week last monty.
Coal industry can’t afford to give this administration and EPA more ammunition
Coal already has a bad name in Washington, D.C.
The whole industry got another black eye this week when Alpha Natural Resources Inc., one of the country’s largest coal producers, agreed to pay a $27.5 million fine and invest $200 million to reduce illegal water pollution in five states, including West Virginia.
Being observant, reporting suspicions can make difference for hurting children
If a child is hurting, we wouldn’t hesitate to help.
Or would we?
In a five-year span, 22,830 children were victims of some type of neglect or abuse in West Virginia. That’s an overwhelming number to think about.
Gee makes major impact and earns another term as WVU president
Let’s imagine that a graduate from West Virginia University in the early 1980s, when E. Gordon Gee was president, came back to get an extra degree now and couldn’t believe that E. Gordon Gee is “still” the president of WVU.
Effort to encourage purchase of goods produced in U.S. deserves support
The concept of encouraging the purchase of American-made products is certainly not new.
On the federal level, the Buy American Act was passed in 1933 by Congress and signed by President Herbert Hoover. It required the United States government to prefer U.S.-made products in its purchases.
‘Stop Meth, Not Meds’ backed by readers
In West Virginia, there is something referred to as “stop-sale technology” that prevents a person from going to more than one pharmacy to purchase over-the-counter medication that contains the active ingredient pseudoephedrine, a nasal decongestant.
It’s not an issue of stuffy noses that lawmakers were worried about when they created the system.
Even small steps play part in critical mission to reduce childhood obesity
Just two years ago, more than one-third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese, meaning they had excess body weight based on their height.
It’s a troubling statistic, and one that health officials have worked diligently to reverse.
Cutting-edge heart procedure at Mon General is saving lives
“I used to think I wouldn’t live to be 50. Well, I made it to 50 and then some,” Pearl Walls said.
Walls is likely alive today and able to tell her story to the Times West Virginian because of a cutting-edge procedure performed at Monongalia General Hospital — a Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), which was only approved for use by the FDA in 2011.
Celebrate Dr. Seuss’ many works, magic words
You know his words.
You know them well.
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