SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions


By Diane Gubatayao


February 07, 2015
Saturday AM

Over fifteen years ago a great many citizens of Ketchikan participated in a planning process led by Ketchikan Public Health. The key question was what builds a healthy community? Their response was not the customary prevent heart disease or prevent cancer. Their response was truly visionary: if we want to build a healthy community, we need to invest in healthy youth. But how?

Don Mitchel, a school counselor at the time, learned about a new model called “developmental assets” designed by Search Institute based upon a comprehensive review of fifty years of research on youth development. The concept of developmental assets is so seemingly simple: if a young person possesses 30 or more of the 40 assets in his or her life, the chances of that young person avoiding serious risk behaviors such as substance abuse or gangs are greatly increased. Extensive ongoing studies by Search Institute and other researchers on diverse student populations confirm this positive outcome.

To the credit of Ketchikan Public Health and their partners, they adopted the developmental asset model as the core of their initiative, and PATCHWorks was born. I had the honor and privilege of being the first director of PATCHWorks. What made PATCHWorks so distinctive and special was that it was a true youth/adult partnership in action. Youth Coordinators such as Chad Medel, John Whipple and Brian Bergeron were and still are amazing, powerful young leaders.

PATCHWorks was the perfect name because it was the result of many agencies and organizations coming together to carry out the mission. Ketchikan General Hospital became the sponsoring agency and dedicated the services of Wendy Gierard to supporting the effort. Ketchikan Public Health under the leadership of Joan Nugent and with the recognition of the Ketchikan City Council provided a home office and technical support. So many dedicated individuals served on the Board of Directors giving of their time and expert guidance. The Ketchikan Daily News generously contributed to the Everyday Asset Builder ads. Dick (may his memory be blessed) and Mary Kauffman of SitNews shared their knowledge of website designs with our fledgling webmasters, Chad and John. Rainy Day Quilters donated beautiful, unique mini quilts which became our signature awards for honoring Community Asset Builders. So many more contributed, and support for PATCHWorks represented the best of Ketchikan as the awesome community it is. All of this was for the youth of Ketchikan.

And as anyone who has ever lived in Ketchikan knows, you never leave, because Ketchikan lives within you forever. So I keep in touch. And it is great to see such organizations as Ketchikan Youth Initiatives and the Ketchikan Wellness Coalition carry forward the torch for building a healthy community that began with such organizations as ADFY and PATCHWorks. What was true then is still true today. Assets are the key; focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses empowers youth. I am sure many of you remember 150 Ways to Show Kids You Care; little gems like “catch them doing something right”. 150 Ways teaches that it is the little things that count big. So, in closing, I want to honor the power of one. You are that one. You can make a difference in the life of a young person, and it doesn’t cost you anything, just your caring and action. Check out the website for inspiration. And thanks for the great years with PATCHWorks.

Diane Gubatayao
Ketchikan, Alaska


Received February 04, 2015 - Published February 07, 2015



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