When exploring the beauty of the Palmetto State, it’s easy to forget how vulnerable it is to climate change and the impact that adverse weather can have on local communities. As an effort to bring awareness to the changing climate and its effects, The South Carolina 7, also known as SC7, designs family-friendly expeditions and adventures that get locals excited about the outdoors while also inspiring them to protect it.
SC7 is a collaborative campaign between Global Eco Adventures and the South Carolina National Heritage Corridor – two South Carolina-based nonprofit organizations. Its mission is to “raise awareness of floodwater prevention and resiliency across South Carolina while engaging leaders and citizens in the protection and enjoyment of South Carolina’s natural resources.”
SC7’s signature event is a 30-day Expedition Across South Carolina, which kicks off annually on July 1 and is led by world-renowned explorer and South Carolina native Tom Mullikin.
The aptly named Expedition follows the Palmetto Trail from the Appalachian Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean. The journey highlights the “CAROLINA 7,” named for the seven geographic wonders that participants experience along the way. Throughout its journey, the Expedition team holds large-scale public and media events, lunch and learns and the “Adventure Out” weekend, held the last weekend of July in Charleston. The Expedition culminates with the Finish Line Celebration, a VIP reception, awards ceremony and evening meant to celebrate the participants and their accomplishments.
The purpose of The Expedition is to bring attention to South Carolina’s natural landmarks and the many resources that need protection. It also serves as an opportunity for participants to discuss topics such as conservation, adult and childhood fitness and outdoor therapy. These discussions take place through a series of fireside chats led by key partners in the outdoor and conservation industries. The goal of the fireside chats is to stimulate action that will continue long after the Expedition ends.
SC7 has partnered with the Medical University of South Carolina, South Carolina’s only comprehensive academic health science center, to further its efforts. As a result of this partnership, the Expedition includes the “Appalachians to the Atlantic Virtual Fitness Challenge,” which allows participants from all over the Palmetto State to join in the event virtually by completing 100, 250 or 500 miles. MUSC works to “preserve and optimize human life in South Carolina” by leading in health innovation. In joining SC7’s events and activities, MUSC aims to further improve the health and well-being of citizens across the state.
Dr. Susan L. Johnson, Ph.D., MUSC’s director of health promotion and assistant professor of graduate studies in the College of Health Professions, is passionate about the work that SC7 is doing. She grew up in the country and has a long-standing love of and appreciation for the outdoors. The daughter of a geography professor, Dr. Johnson grew up learning about land planning, conservation and environmental science. Throughout her career, she has dedicated herself to conservation-related projects and services.
“There is growing evidence that access to the natural environment improves health and well-being, prevents disease and helps people recover from illness,” she said, pointing out that time spent in nature also contributes to social and community well-being by connecting people to each other and to the larger world. “As the connections between people and their environment are strengthened, both become healthier, more resilient and more vibrant.”
Because conserved landscapes depend on people for their continued health, SC7 and its sponsors and partners dedicate the month of July to highlighting the beauty of South Carolina and why it’s important to become involved in its preservation. Participants of all ages are welcomed and encouraged to share in the vision of a state better prepared for and more aware of the impact climate change will inevitably have on our landscape and communities.
Information on SC7’s events can be found at southcarolina7.com, which also features “Higher Ground,” a documentary that highlights how SC7 is making South Carolina more resilient to the effects of severe weather.
By Isabel Alvarez Arata