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AMERICAN MOSAIC - Will Smith's New Album / Meet a Child Helping Other Children Deal with Difficulty / Popular State Park

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(MUSIC)

DOUG JOHNSON: Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.

I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:

Music by Will Smith …

A question about a waterfall in the American Middle West ...

And a report about a fourteen-year-old girl who leads an organization that helps other children.

Children to Children

Children to Children
Children to Children

Makenzie Snyder is a teenager who leads an organization that helps displaced children in the United States. Faith Lapidus tells us about Makenzie and the organization she started.

FAITH LAPIDUS: Makenzie Snyder lives in Bowie, Maryland. She was seven years old when she started Children to Children. The organization helps children in foster care. Foster care is the name of a system used when parents are no longer able to take care of their children. The children are placed in the homes of people who have agreed to care for them. More than five hundred thirty thousand children in the United States are now in foster care.

Makenzie met two children in foster care in nineteen ninety-eight. They had moved from home to home. Makenzie learned that many foster children have nothing in which to carry their clothes and other personal objects. They are given plastic bags made for carrying waste or trash.

Makenzie says she thought it was wrong for children to have to treat their belongings as if they were trash. With help from her parents, she started an Internet Web site and the organization Children to Children.

Children to Children helps children in the foster care system to feel better about themselves during times when their families are in crisis. The organization provides high quality travel bags for the children's clothes. The children also receive a soft toy animal. Makenzie says this gives them something to hug and to love. She says the toy helps the children to not feel alone. She also writes a note to each child. She tells them that they should never lose hope and that she loves them.

Makenzie Snyder is now fourteen years old. She continues her work with Children to Children after seven years. She says her goal is to help all children in foster care in the United States. Children to Children has provided about thirty thousand bags to children in need. The experts who work with the children say Makenzie is doing a good job. They say the children are happy to receive her gifts.

Makenzie Snyder has won many awards for her work. She says she would like to meet the children she helps. But she is not permitted to do so. American laws protect the names of children in foster care.

Takquamenon Falls State Park

Photo - National Park Service
Photo - National Park Service

DOUG JOHNSON: Our VOA listener question this week comes from Gombe State, Nigeria. Abdulkadir Usman asks about a waterfall in the state of Michigan. It is called Tahquamenon (tah-QUA-meh-non) Falls.

Hundreds of years ago, the northern part of what is now Michigan was home to native Americans known as the Chippewa or Ojibwe Indians. They lived along what is now called the Tahquamenon River. The American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a long poem about them. It is called "The Song of Hiawatha." Here is Barbara Klein reciting the part of the poem about the river:

BARBARA KLEIN: Thus aloud cried Hiawatha

In the solitary forest,

By the rushing Taquamenaw (tah-qua-MEE-naw),

When the birds were singing gaily,

In the Moon of Leaves were singing,

And the sun, from sleep awaking,

Started up and said, "Behold me

"Gheezis (GHEE-zis), the great Sun, behold me."

DOUG JOHNSON: Today, the falls and the river are part of the Tahquamenon Falls State Park. Park officials say they are not sure where the name came from. Whatever the meaning of the name, Tahquamenon Falls State Park today means outdoor fun for many people. The park extends over sixteen thousand hectares of mostly undeveloped forestland. Most of the area has no roads, buildings or electric power. The river and its waterfalls are in the center of the park.

The Upper Falls is one of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River. It is more than sixty meters across. The water drops almost fifteen meters. Park officials say they have recorded its largest flow at more than eighteen thousand liters of water per second. About five hundred thousand people visit the park each year. They walk through the forest to the bottom of the Upper Falls where the water crashes into the Tahquamenon River.

In another part of the park, visitors can see five smaller waterfalls from an area near the river or from a nearby island. Visitors can rent boats to reach the island and watch the falling water. The park also includes four campgrounds and forty kilometers of walking paths.

Some visitors go to Tahquamenon Falls State Park to watch the many birds and other animals who make the park their home. These include cranes, woodpeckers, bald eagles, moose, bears, coyotes, and mink.

Will Smith: 'Lost and Found'

Actor and rapper Will Smith stars in a new movie, "Hitch," that was released in February. On March twenty-ninth, he released his first new album in three years. Gwen Outen tells about the busy entertainer and plays songs from his new record.

Will Smith: Lost and Found
Will Smith: Lost and Found

GWEN OUTEN: It is called "Lost and Found." On a number of songs Will Smith tries to answer critics of his hip-hop style. Some critics say it is too "clean." In the song, "Wish I Made That," Will Smith says radio stations that play rap music will not play his music. He says they do not think he is "black enough." Then he offers a few ideas on what rap stations might want from artists:

(MUSIC)

Will Smith invited several popular performers to help create this album. Here he is with singer Mary J. Blige. The song expresses the difficulty of explaining life's tragedies to children. It is called "Tell Me Why."

(MUSIC)

Will Smith made his past three albums with Columbia Records. He won two Grammy Awards and several American Music Awards with that label. "Lost and Found" is his first work with Interscope Records. We leave you now with the title song from the new album.

(MUSIC)

DOUG JOHNSON: I'm Doug Johnson. I hope you enjoyed our program this week.

Our show was written by Nancy Steinbach, Lawan Davis and Caty Weaver, who was also our producer.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.

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