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Smokies offers special hikes to discuss diversity and racism

GATLINBURG (AP) — Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Cassius Cash has developed a new program that seeks to unite conversations about diversity and racism with the beauty of the mountains.
The goal of Smokies Hikes for Healing is to provide “a safe space for individuals of all backgrounds and ethnicities to begin difficult conversations that can lead to change,” according to a news release from the park. Eight guided hikes with Cash will be held August through December in different locations across the park on the Tennessee-North Carolina border. During the hikes, a facilitator will lead each group in a thought-provoking discussion around race, according to the release.
Hikers can also coordinate their own groups using Smokies Hikes for Healing materials.
“National Parks have long provided a place of healing, and I believe the setting of this mountain sanctuary is a powerful space to bring us together to engage in crucial conversations,” Cash said in the news release. “I’m inviting everyone to step out and have real conversations about the history of racism locally and globally. In learning about our past, we open the doors to our future.”
More information on how to apply for the hikes is at smokieshikesforhealing.org.