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Great Smoky Mountains to host "Hikes for Healing," conversations about race and diversity

The Superintendent of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host hikes with up to 10 people, where they can openly explore sensitive topics.

Some topics can be hard to approach without help, so the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is organizing an event to give small groups of people a chance to talk about sensitive subjects while away in nature.

"The Smokies Hikes for Healing" initiative will bring groups of up to 10 people from Tennessee and North Carolina into the mountains, along with a facilitator to lead discussions on race and racial injustice. The initiative includes 8 guided hikes.

Officials with the Great Smoky Mountains said they hope that people start their hike as strangers, but end hikes with unique bonds between each other. They said they hope these people will help conversations about race continue away from the park. They also said the mountains have always been a place for healing, and that they hope it can give people sanctuary while they talk.

Officials also said they will create a digital platform where participants can share their stories of the hike and inspire others to organize similar experiences.

Most of all, officials said they hoped conversations will continue with people who haven't gone on the hikes, and that the people who venture into the mountains on one of the Hikes for Healing will return with the skills to work towards a better world.

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