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Posts Tagged ‘south carolina’

Photo: Charleston County School/Facebook
South Carolina teacher Katie Blomquist said she wanted her students to grow up with happy biking memories like hers.

I woke up one morning and checked the headlines and saw four stories on horrible things and felt the weight of the world descending. But I also keep finding stories reminding me that, whatever happens, the human spirit of kindness survives.

Here is a recent example from South Carolina, where a teacher was so moved by the poverty of her students that she took an unusual action.

Eun Kyung Kim reported the story at TODAY.com.

“Students jumped with joy, hugged one another and squealed with delight as teachers at their South Carolina elementary school revealed hundreds of custom-made bicycles beneath parachutes normally used for P.E. class.

“The new set of wheels [came] courtesy of first-grade teacher Katie Blomquist.

“ ‘I made a really conscious effort to watch their faces and let it soak in and imprint in my brain when those tarps went up,’ she told TODAY. ‘It was that moment I’ve been waiting for seven months.’

“But the idea originated more than a year ago. Blomquist, 34, teaches at North Charleston’s Pepperhill Elementary School, where many of the students live in poverty. Last year, one of her students mentioned how much he wanted a bike for his birthday. His parents couldn’t afford to buy him one, and neither could she.

“ ‘I started thinking about all the other kids who might not have bikes. We take a lot for granted and we forget that there’s a large category of kids out there who don’t have bikes,’ she said. ‘That was such a large piece of my childhood memories, and I immediately thought, “oh, they’re not getting that!”‘ …

“In September, Blomquist started a ‘Every Kid Deserves a Bike!’ GoFundMe page and set a $65,000 goal, enough to buy bikes and helmets for the 650 students at Pepperhill. Within three months, she had raised more than $82,000. …

“ ‘This was an entire second job for me, when I got home from work until midnight every night,’ she said.

“Radio Flyer donated 100 big-wheel tricycles and training bikes for the pre-school students, while a local business, Affordabike, worked with Blomquist to customize the remaining 550 bicycles …

“Beyond the children’s reactions — and the hugs from parents as they picked up the bikes —Blomquist said she’s enjoyed the sense of community created by strangers around the nation who donated to the campaign. It was support she hadn’t anticipated. …

“ ‘But maybe one day when they’re adults, they’ll know that this gift, it wasn’t from me. It was from our community and our country,’ she said.”

More here.

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One of the many reasons I’m grateful to WordPress is that, as the largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world, it gives me some visibility among other bloggers.

One day recently I garnered a “like” from the Girl Scouts of South Carolina Mountains to Midlands. I decided to check out their blog, and I found a good story to share.

Michelle Taylor writes, “Zainab Bhagat has always reached out to the hurting, even when she didn’t realize she was practicing philanthropy. As a child in elementary school, she noticed one of her friends often went without. Her friend never seemed to have school supplies or a complete lunch. Without a second thought, Zainab shared everything she had to offer. …

“When Zainab had the opportunity to earn the Gold Award in high school, she never questioned if she should pursue it or not. She felt it a moral obligation to share her time, talent, and treasure with the world. …

“She knew the project would take her full devotion. She would have to spend at least 80 hours researching, planning, and working her project. She would have to present her concept before a committee, and her project would have to address a real issue in her community. But anything worth doing is rarely easy.

“Zainab created a documentary about homelessness in her hometown of Irmo, South Carolina. She interviewed and became fast friends with a local teen who had endured incredible hardship. Watch her hard-hitting and inspirational documentary [here].”

More at the Girl Scouts of South Carolina blog, here. How reassuring it is to see young people like this readying to enter the world of adulthood. They will make that world better.

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I heard about poet Terrance Hayes on the radio show Studio 360. He is the winner of a MacArthur Fellowship, among other honors, and a University of Pittsburgh writing professor. Kurt Andersen interviewed him.

“Hayes grew up in South Carolina, where he was one of the only black students at a very preppy high school. But he says that race didn’t define him as a kid. ‘I was a basketball player, and I ran track, and I was a visual artist.’

“With all his accolades, invisibility hasn’t been too much of an issue for Hayes. But as a theme, it’s certainly present in his work. His poem ‘How to Draw an Invisible Man’ plays with Ralph Ellison’s take on black invisibility in the eyes of white society. ‘The thing that I’ve decided is, I don’t want to be invisible, but I’d like to be transparent. I want people to see what I’m thinking and see through me,’ he says. ‘I’m about 6’6’’. You know, I don’t have trouble walking into a room. I would prefer to be more invisible, in fact, than I am.’ ”

Listen to the interview at Studio 360. And read a review by Jonathan Farmer, at Slate, of his latest book of poems.

Photo: Becky Thurner Braddock
Poet Terrance Hayes. His new book of poems is called How to Be Drawn.

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Fireflies are not as ubiquitous as they used to be, and that’s a concern. They are like the canary in the mine. If fireflies go, other species go.

What has caused the decline? Lawn chemicals? Rapid urbanization? Scientists want to know.

NY Times reporter Alan Bllinder writes from Greenville, South Carolina, about a crowdsourced research project to help figure out what’s going on.

“As dusk faded over the home of Jeremy Lyons and his sons on a recent evening here, one ritual of the Southern summer — the soft hiss of a can of mosquito repellent — signaled that the start of another was near.

“And although Raine Lyons, 6, grimaced, coughed and flinched during his dousing with bug spray, he soon stood near a chain-link fence in his backyard and shouted, in speedy succession: ‘Found one! Found one! Found one!’ Mr. Lyons, perched on his knee next to Raine, was almost completely silent as he tapped the screen of his cellphone again and again and again.

“There, on a weeknight in a South Carolina backyard, a father and his son, in their different ways, were counting fireflies. But an evening among fireflies was not merely a modest round of summertime nostalgia; instead, it was part of a multiyear quest by Clemson University researchers to measure the firefly population and investigate whether urbanization, especially here in the fast-growing South, threatens the insects.” Read how they are going about it here.

I hope we can reverse the decline of fireflies. I have so many happy memories of them from my childhood and my children’s childhood.

Photo: Jacob Biba for The New York Times
Raine Lyons counting fireflies alongside his father, Jeremy, in Greenville, S.C., as volunteers in the Vanishing Firefly Project of Clemson University.

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Take two tomatoes and call me in the morning.

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The University of South Carolina has developed a manual for health centers that want to collaborate with farmers markets on health, even writing food prescriptions for patients who need to improve their eating habits.

The manual’s authors, Darcy Freedman and Kassandra Alia, write in the intro of their manual:

“Farmers’ markets have grown in popularity in recent years as a place for improving health, increasing economic growth for local agriculture, and building communities. …

“Though the rebirth of farmers’ markets represents an exciting movement in the United States, data reveal that the benefits of farmers’ markets are not evenly distributed. Communities with the greatest need for farmers’ markets, for instance, are least likely to have them.

“In the present manual, we describe an approach for developing a health center‐based farmers’ market. Health centers, in particular federally qualified health centers or FQHCs, were identified as a strategic place to locate farmers’ markets because they may be located in food desert contexts (i.e., low‐income communities with low‐access to healthy food retailers). Additionally, locating at a health center makes an explicit connection between farmers’ market and preventive medicine.” More.

Photo: Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

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