EKY students weighing in on Appalachia's future

By: Michelle Heron Email
By: Michelle Heron Email

HARLAN, Ky. (WYMT)- After President Obama announced the Promise Zone Initiative for eight counties within southeast Kentucky, leaders are now turning to students for ideas on how to improve the region.

These students have grown up in one of the most beautiful counties in Kentucky, but they’ve also grown up in a county with some of the highest poverty rates.

Sierra Hatfield is a junior at Harlan County High School where she is also part of the Gifted Leadership program.

Today, she’s teaming up with other leadership students from Harlan Independent High School to give students like her a voice.

“I would like to see this region expand, because it has declined so much and we have good people here and we have good resources,” Hatfield added.

Marisa Aull is an extension associate with the University of Kentucky and is heading this youth forum to give the next generation a voice within Eastern Kentucky’s future.

“We’re really getting some great, insightful answers from them and some very thought provoking things that we hope some of our elected officials and community members will listen to,” Aull added.

The feedback has raised some eyebrows from elected officials and other community leaders but they say they’re thrilled students like Harlan Independent High School senior Xiao-Yin want to one day return to the region.

“I wish there would be more opportunities for there to come to, because if there were, I definitely would,” Yin added.

Teams are listening to students from all of the eight counties within the Promise Zone Initiative (Bell, Harlan, Letcher, Perry, Leslie, Clay, Knox, and part of Whitley County).

Click the attached link for more information about Promise Zones.

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