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Experts discuss kids' health, welfare

HUNTINGTON — With hopes of forging a path toward meaningful changes to policy that affect the well-being of West Virginia's children, two groups brought together health care and child welfare experts Friday at the Marshall University School of Medicine within Cabell Huntington Hospital.

"This is our third year," said Kelli Caseman, with West Virginians for Affordable Health Care, one of the groups that organized Friday's roundtable. "Each year I learn something really insightful and meaningful, but it was discussed that we really need a groundswelling of support to really push change, and we don't have that yet. It's three years and we still haven't found that galvanizing support to push policy change because it's such a hard topic."

Partnering with Caseman's group for Friday's event was the West Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Experts on the panel included pediatricians, neonatologists, psychologists, social workers and representatives from West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. Topics included the opioid epidemic, adverse childhood effects (ACEs), foster care and unmet health care needs of children.

They tackled many questions regarding children's well-being, and information from Friday's discussion will be compiled in a report that will be delivered to the state Legislature prior to its session next year.

"How do we improve parent engagement knowing that we believe the research that is

there showing adverse childhood effects lead people down the path to substance use disorder?" Caseman said. "We aren't just talking about kids who may be experiencing adverse childhood effects, but they are growing up in a home where everybody has adverse childhood experiences. If you know trauma is playing a big role, how do you treat the family? How do you refer to mental health services when you know there aren't mental health services in your community?"

Many of the themes Friday included how to better wrap services around children and their families, treating them as a whole, rather than in pieces. For example, one question asked of the panel was how food insecurity ties into both the physical and mental health of a child, and how the health care professionals can better address nutrition.

"In my medical education, I didn't really appreciate that food is medicine," said Dr. Lisa Costello, assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics of West Virginia University School of Medicine. "We need to emphasize that. Just like we would pay for a drug, we need to make sure we are paying for healthy food options and access."

Dr. Marianna Linz, chairwoman of the Marshall Department of Psychology, said medical professionals need to better understand the realities their patients face, such as only being able to afford to shop at a store that doesn't carry fresh fruits and vegetables or only being able to afford to grocery shop once or twice a month.

There was also a discussion on the foster care system, including how to better meet those children's health care needs and how to recruit more foster families.

Jeremiah Samples, deputy director of DHHR, said the upcoming switch to a managed care organization to coordinate health care for foster children should help many of the issues families and physicians face with health care.

"We have to stay vigilant," he said. "We have to hear from physicians and foster families about how this works."

In regards to recruiting more foster families, Dr. Jim Lewis, with the Marshall School of Medicine, said more training of families is needed so they are prepared to deal with the issues children will bring into their home.

Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter and Facebook @TaylorStuckHD.


Poage Landing Days fest honors Ashland's founders

ASHLAND — The town of Ashland has set the stage for its annual Poage Landing Days, a hometown festival celebrating the founding Poage family of Ashland, which at one time was named Poage Landing.

The family-style festival offers an array of actives all weekend long.

On Saturday, a cruise-in will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with registration at 10 a.m. Arts and crafts, free inflatables and amusement activities will be available all day.

The children's activity tent will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. with Mr. Puppet Stage Show performances throughout the day from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

At the tourism office, 1509 Winchester Ave., several quilts are on display from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. On display is the quilt Jesse Stuart's sister, Glennis Stuart Liles, made in 1958 with his niece, Betty Stuart Baird, featuring images of the book covers from more than 40 of Stuart's books. The quilt was a surprise in honor of the writer.

At the Main Stage on 16th Street, there will be music all day leading up to national recording artist Josh Gracin's performance at 7:30 p.m. and Thompson Square at 9 p.m.

Sunday's events begin with the Southern Fried Cone Fest skateboard race at 8 a.m. A church service takes place at 11 a.m., preceded by 10:30 a.m. fellowship with coffee and doughnuts.

Music will start at noon on the 15th Street stage, leading up to the Christ Temple Brotherhood Choir at 4 p.m.

Find the complete schedule at www.poagelandingdays.com.


Wayne HS moving its graduation off-campus

WAYNE — Some traditions die hard, but Student Council members and school administrators at Wayne High School are working to change one of them.

In a decision announced Wednesday, Wayne High School's annual commencement ceremony will no longer be held on the school's campus. Instead, it will move to the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in downtown Huntington to accommodate more guests for the graduates' big day.

WHS Principal Sara Stapleton said she's held off on proposing a change of location over the past few years, but after some heavy consideration decided to announce the move this year, taking into account the concerns of students, parents and family.

"Four generations of my own family have graduated at the school, so this decision was not an easy one for me. However, the last three years, I have had to move the ceremony inside due to weather, and when the ceremony is moved from the football field to the gym, graduates are limited to the number of guests they can invite," Stapleton said.

"The general suggestion (was) to move it to the Big Sandy, so we listened."

WHS Student Council members Walker Tatum, Katie Queen and Elizabeth Queen presented the idea to the Wayne County Board of Education, asking for support before the start of school this fall. The BOE agreed to the idea — something it had considered before but never acted on.

The move doesn't come cheaply. Holding the commencement ceremony in the arena

is expected to come with a price tag of $5,000 to $6,000. With the Wayne County Board of Education being on the hook for a portion of the total cost, Stapleton said the school administration will rely on public donations to help fund the remaining cost.

Wayne County Schools Superintendent Todd Alexander says the total cost of using the arena is $22,000 and will be split among the BOE and each of the schools. Spring Valley is responsible for $8,400 (less than it has paid in the past), the board will provide $7,300, and Wayne will foot the rest of the bill ($6,300). The cost includes use of the facilities for graduation rehearsals and ceremonies to occur in a two-day window.

Alexander said an invitation was extended to Tolsia High School to move its ceremony to the arena but was declined.

For some, like Mary Sword, who attended her own and her son's graduation on Pioneer Field, the announcement was bittersweet.

"I certainly understand the need for it to be held indoors when inclement weather hits," said Sword. "I know that many, many people have had to miss their loved one's special day due to lack of space, so this will actually be wonderful."

Now the fundraising effort begins for the school, which will create a "graduation fund" for donations as well as hold community fundraisers to secure the required amount of money.

"I have faith in our community and in our families that they will support this change. Every student is defined by the community he/she belongs to, and I am confident that our community will support our students," Stapleton said.

Those interested in making a donation are encouraged to contact the Wayne High School administration. The commencement ceremony is scheduled for 3 p.m. May 23, 2020.


'I want a future': Global protests push for action on climate change

NEW YORK — A wave of climate change protests swept the globe Friday, with hundreds of thousands of young people sending a message to leaders headed for a U.N. summit: The warming world can't wait for action.

Marches, rallies and demonstrations were held from Canberra to Kabul and Cape Town to New York and German police reported that more than 100,000 turned out in Berlin.

"Global Climate Strike" events ranged from about two dozen activists in Seoul using LED flashlights to send Morse code messages calling for action to rescue the earth to Australia demonstrations that organizers estimated were the country's largest protests since the Iraq War began in 2003.

"Basically, our earth is dying, and if we don't do something about it, we die," said A.J. Conermann, a 15-year-old high school sophomore among several thousand who marched to the Capitol in Washington.

"I want to grow up. I want to have a future," Conermann added.

In New York, where public schools excused students with parental permission, tens of thousands of mostly young people marched through lower Manhattan.

"Sorry I can't clean my room, I'm busy saving the world," one protester's sign declared.

And in Paris, teenagers and kids as young as 10 traded class-rooms for the streets. Marie-Lou Sahai, 15, skipped school because "the only way to make people listen is to protest."

The demonstrations were partly inspired by the activism of Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg, who has staged weekly "Fridays for Future" demonstrations for a year, urging world leaders to step up efforts against climate change.

"It's such a victory," Thunberg told The Associated Press in an interview in New York. "I would never have predicted or believed that this was going to happen, and so fast — and only in 15 months."

Thunberg is expected to participate in a U.N. Youth Climate Summit on Saturday and speak at the U.N. Climate Action Summit with global leaders on Monday.

"They have this opportunity to do something, and they should take that," she said. "And otherwise, they should feel ashamed."

The world has warmed about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit since before the Industrial Revolution, and scientists have attributed more than 90 percent of the increase to emissions of heat-trapping gases from fuel-burning and other human activity.

Scientists have warned that global warming will subject Earth to rising seas and more heat waves, droughts, powerful storms, flooding and other problems, and that some have already started manifesting themselves.

Climate change has made record-breaking heat temperature records twice as likely as record-setting cold temperatures over the past two decades in the contiguous U.S., according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data.

Nations around the world agreed at a 2015 summit in Paris to hold warming to less than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit more than pre-industrial-era levels by the end of this century.

But U.S. President Donald Trump subsequently announced that he was withdrawing the U.S. from the agreement, which he said benefits other nations at the expense of American businesses and taxpayers.

Trump called man-made global warming a "hoax" before becoming president. He has said he's "not denying climate change" but is not convinced it's man-made or permanent.

New York protester Pearl Seidman, 13, hoped the demonstration would tell the Trump administration "that if they can't be adults, we're going to be adults. Because someone needs to do it." At least one Trump supporter waved a large "Trump 2020" flag as the demonstrators marched in Manhattan.

In Florida, high school students shouted "Miami is under attack" in Miami Beach, where some worried about losing their homes to rising water. On the West Coast, student-led protests drew in some Google and Amazon employees.

Amazon, which ships more than 10 billion items a year, vowed Thursday to cut its use of fossil fuels, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai told the Financial Times in a story published Friday that eliminating the company's carbon emissions by 2030 didn't seem "unreasonable."

Friday's demonstrations started in Australia, where organizers estimated 300,000 protesters marched in 110 towns and cities, including Sydney and the national capital, Canberra. Demonstrators called for their country, the world's largest exporter of coal and liquid natural gas, to take more drastic action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack — filling in while Prime Minister Scott Morrison was on a state visit to the United States — said Australia was already taking action to cut emissions. McCormack called the climate rallies "a disruption" that should have been held on a weekend to avoid inconveniences.