A reaction to KIDS COUNT data

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By Jesse Osbourne


I love the community I live in (Lebanon) and the community I work in (Springfield).
However, it seems there is work to do.

This week we wrote about the 2011 Kentucky KIDS COUNT data. The numbers in some areas are sobering.
The three areas that hit me the hardest were the rising rates of children in poverty, childhood obesity and mothers who reported smoking during pregnancy.
Those are numbers you never want to see rise.
But, they’re out there now. We know about them. What do we do with them?
We could ignore them. We could say, “Nah, those statistics are wrong. There’s no way.”
We could complain that the newspaper is just cranking out more negative news.
Or, we can scratch our heads and think of ways to help.
Me, I’m at a partial loss.
I’m not sure how to answer that.
There is one thing I’m sure of. We have room to improve.
Individually and as a community, we excel at many things.
However, we need more awareness about health issues.
I can’t preach about smoking. I’m a former smoker, and I realize I live in an area that suffers if tobacco products suffer.
Smoking is a choice. However, if you’re pregnant, or even in close confines with a child, please consider your actions.
Let’s do better. I know we can.
On a lighter note, on the next page you will notice a lot of ink dedicated to Wendell Berry.
We covered St. Catharine College’s new partnership with Wendell Berry and The Berry Center a few weeks ago.
Sister Claire McGowan planted an idea in my mind about exposing you, the reader, to more of Wendell Berry’s ideas.
So, I asked a few folks who are familiar with the man to write about who Wendell Berry is and why we should care.
I hope that their words serve as illumination.
Pam Breunig, the principal at St. Dominic, was a student of Wendell Berry at the University of Kentucky.
Here’s how she answered my question.
“Who is Wendell Berry, and why should we care? First and foremost, Mr. Berry is a Kentuckian. We should care about who Wendell Berry is for that reason alone, but also for his literary contributions and his passionate concern for our land and its citizens. He is a farmer and a gifted writer of poems, essays short stories and novels. I had the great fortune to have Mr. Berry as a writing teacher when I was completing my Masters program at UK. If you would like some insight into his work and agrarian perspective, I highly recommend the novel, The Memory of Old Jack and his collection of essays entitled, A Continuous Harmony: Essays Cultural and Agricultural.”