By Barbara Musumarra
Children beamed in Robbinsville, N.C., as the Cherokee chief cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony of the Snowbird Youth Center in July, which marked the first time since forming in 2002 that the Snowbird youth group will have a building to call their own. The new space is expected to boost efforts in preserving traditional heritage among the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ Snowbird community.
The U.S. Forest Service collaborated with the tribe to create the center, which functions as an after-school and summer program for children and adolescents between the ages of 5 and 18.
Youth can connect with nature while enjoying the facility’s hiking trails on 20 acres of the Nantahala National Forest. Classes and craft demonstrations are offered to enrich tribal history knowledge, and further developments may include a Cherokee language immersion program.
The center encourages litter cleanup and volunteer work, and the energy-efficient construction of the building reflects the importance of the environment in the community.
With the new location, trails, classes and volunteer programs, the program aims to triple attendance. Visit: facebook.com/SnowbirdYouthCenter