A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains

By Goeun, age 14, Virginia

On February 10th, a documentary about children in Central Appalachia aired on ABC. It shared the stories of three children, Erica, Shawn, and Courtney, living in extreme poverty and facing hardships. Since Central Appalachia has three times the national rate of poverty, drug abuse, the shortest life span in the nation, toothlessness, cancer, and chronic depression, you can imagine the obstacles these children and their families face.

Most people in Central Appalachia depend on food stamps and welfare to get them through. The others depend on drug dealing and coal mining. Families of up to twelve live in cramped trailers, often not having enough food or necessities. People who can't afford milk feed their babies soda, and lacking dental care, it results in rotting teeth, and eventually toothlessness. The things these families do without that many Americans take for granted ... well, it makes you extremely grateful for everything you have.

Erica, age 11, is determined to save her mother's life. Erica is afraid her mother Mona, hooked on drugs and alcohol and nearing 50, will soon die. Social services require Mona to attend rehab, and each time Erica is robbed of a parent.

Courtney, a 12 year old girl, lives with 11 relatives in a tiny house. Her mother Angel has overcome drug addiction and walks 16 miles each day to get her GED in hopes of getting a job.

Shawn, a former high school football star, sleeps in his truck to escape the mayhem in his home. He was the first in his family to graduate high school, but unfortunately had to drop out of college because of a lack of tuition money.

Angel (right) with her daughter

Fortunately, there are things we can do to help. The Christian Appalachian Project ( is a nonprofit organization committed to serving people in Appalachia. Kids First Dental Care ( provides school based dental care to 16 counties in Kentucky.

To see a complete list of charities and places to donate, go to And please, help save these children's lives. These conditions are something no one should have to bear.

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February & March Magazine Issues

March 15, 2012

The February and March issues of Sweet Designs Magazine are now online, featuring a combined 53 new articles and features!!

- Cover: Stephanie Lynn reflects on 5 years
- Cover: India (of Darn-licious knitwear)
- Life in the dumps (moving in with my bf)
- The difference between men and women
- Angels among us (parts 1 and 2)
- Arts graduates & the dark night of the soul
- Triple threat (how I survived my teen yrs)
- Dating isn't easy (my true story)
- How to turn not-so-great gifts ... (fashion)
- Ten reasons to love being single
- Taking the big leap (college)
- Valentine's Day (not what you'd expect!)
- The last of the cold (hopefully) (fashion)
- A month full of love
- Ten tips for successful airline travel
- Reasons I love writing for SDM
- Who needs love?
- They're not all the same
- The life I'm glad I don't have (fiction)
- Professional dress/ finding Fendi (fashion)
- An airport anniversary: a true story
- Inappropriate Facebook photos
- The perks of a big city (college)
- A night(mare) to forget (part 2)
- The Anita Blake series (book review)
- Saving June by Hannah Harrington (book)
- Under the Mesquite by GG McCall (book)
- The Lullaby by Sarah Dessen (book)
- If I Stay by Gayle Foreman (book review)
- My sweetheart (original poetry)
- Isn't it funny (original poetry)
- The stranger (original poetry)
- A winter wonderland (original poetry)
- One night valentine
- The thick envelopes (college acceptance)
- Southern love
- Healthy hair and vitamins
- It's a date (dating idea alternatives)
- The 30 hour famine
- School's out forever!
- Marching right back into spring? (fashion)
- Dear John
- When TV shows depict your life
- 3 Fun ways to rock spring's hottest trends
- Neglected teeth
- Starting something new
- Guy movies
- To hesitate or dive in?
- Deadly, by Julie Chibbaro (book review)
- Beastly, by Alex Flinn (book review)
- I don't care (poetry)
- Together, alone (poetry)

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