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Friday, July 30, 2010

FASHION GRAFFITI: Exposing Rural Youth to Fashion and Culture

As someone who grew up in D.C., I couldn't imagine being unable to get around on Metro or shopping at Pentagon City Mall or watching a movie at one of the many local theaters. But I realized that I have been totally taking those things for granted after meeting Felisha Battle, Director of the non-profit organization, Never Say Never. Never Say Never focuses specifically on the challenges facing rural youth. As it says on her web site, "Often times small town living leads to small thinking."

A few weeks ago, Felisha sat down to talk to me about the struggles rural youth face and how she is working diligently to show them a different life. "It took me two hours to get to school," Battle said, "there wasn't a mall and we did not have cable." She added that there are a different set of limitations when you live way out. "You feel restricted," she adds. Battle, who was raised in Port Royal, VA, realized that something needed to be done.

Over a year ago, she started the Never Say Never organization as a way to expose rural youth to the city life that we city folks wade through seamlessly everyday. She raises funds to bring groups of kids to D.C. to go to museums, eat at four and five star restaurants, visit the White House and other historic places. She also takes groups to NYC where they can attend Broadway shows and experience NY city life. "I want them to know that there is more to life than this [rural life]."

To ensure that areas were being accounted for, Battle worked with the Census Bureau on their outreach efforts to make sure that rural areas were actively participating in Census 2010. She fully understands that counting people = dollars for those communities. If an area is under-counted, it will be impossible for communities to grow and expand.

She has set out to change lives for the better, as she says, "one county at a time." Felisha Battle, we salute you. If you would like to donate or learn more about Never Say Never, visit their web site.