After studying several different components of life in Appalachia, I believe some in the class found themselves wondering- “Why are we learning all of this again?” Introducing the class to the Discover Together collaborative enabled us to remember the answer to this very question.
We have looked at the history, the land, the people, and the ways of Appalachia. We have noted the area’s beauties, advantages, and blessings; as well as its misfortunes, hardships, and chronic problems. Understanding and respecting a community is the first step toward initiating change among a community. Over this course, as we have looked at all the aspects that contribute to the sustainment of this region, I feel as though I have developed a close relationship with Appalachia. Like any relationship, this one has allowed me to grow and develop. I began as an “outsider” under the belief that I understood, and have grown into an “insider’s friend” with the faith that what I have been led to understand is true.
The popular saying “knowledge is power” applies in this instance. Knowledge has given us power; the power to connect and the ability to contribute. Knowledge has bridged the gap between us and Appalachia, and now that we have been granted access we have been given the opportunity to influence. This relationship, like most relationships, can be one in which each entity helps the other grow, achieve, and become something better.
How can we initiate change, and help solve Appalachia’s ongoing problem? By approaching the problem before it has even begun. The future of a community lies in its youth. If we can steer the young malleable minds of Appalchian children in the right direction, perhaps we can prevent them from falling to the vicious cycle that is this problem.
Whether or not this approach immediately eliminates the problem, is not really important. What is important is that it can better its enormity. By helping children develop a sturdy foundation of experience, we cannot know where they will end up; but, we can feel assured that all of their subsequent experiences will be ones that build upon the support that we have instilled in them.
The Discover Together program does just this. Camp Discover provides children a place to explore, ask questions, try new things, work together; and, ultimately, build strength.