Assets necessary for children
By MARIE L. MONYAK
March 04, 2006
Ketchikan, Alaska - The Greater Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce
luncheon this past Wednesday provided those in attendance with
not just one but two presentations. The invited guest speaker
was Karen Eakes, long time Ketchikan resident and Executive Director
of PATCHWorks. The First City Players also provided the Chamber
members and their guests with a short preview of their upcoming
musical comedy "Chaps."
"Someone might be thinking,
why would you have an organization like PATCHWorks come in,"
Blaine Ashcraft, Chamber Business Manager asked. "Our children
are our future business community so that's something to keep
in mind about which direction we want to go."
Karen Eakes, Executive
Director of PATCHWorks
Photograph by Marie L. Monyak
Executive Director of PATCHWorks, Karen Eakes has lived in Ketchikan
for 39 years and spent 22 of those as a teacher. She got involved
in PATCHWorks while in graduate school.
Eakes began her presentation by distributing a publication entitled
"Building a future for our community" which contained
an abundance of information regarding our local youth and the
assets necessary for every child to thrive. Additional information
was included from the Search Institute which provided the statistical
information used in the presentation.
For years the community has heard the name PATCHWorks and seen
their announcements in the local newspapers which refer to assets,
yet there are still many who are not aware of who the organization
is and their purpose.
PATCHWorks is simply a Planned Approach to Community Health.
When it began in Ketchikan in 1977, the organization adopted
Search Institutes developmental asset framework and is dedicated
to promoting youth in a positive way and spreading the asset
This research based framework
lists developmental assets that assist our youth in becoming
healthy, responsible, well adjusted adults. It has been proven
through research that the more assets children have the more
likely they are to make healthy, positive choices in their lives
and avoid high risk behavior.
Eakes explained, "There is a direct correlation between
high risk behaviors and thriving behaviors to the number of assets
that kids report having in their lives versus the likelihood
to exhibit thriving or high risk behavior."
The assets spoken of are not property in the usual sense of the
word. Cell phones, cars, MP3 players, Xboxes and the latest NBA
endorsed footwear will not replace family support, communication,
self-esteem and adult role models.
PATCHWorks list 40 assets that are considered to be the building
blocks of a healthy lifestyle for our children. Broken down into
two categories, internal and external assets, the more assets
a child has the more likely they are to exhibit thriving indicators
such as resisting dangerous behavior (alcohol, drugs and sex),
success in school, leadership qualities, impulse control and
On the same token, those children with the least number of assets
will exhibit risk-taking behavior in the form of violence, vandalism,
truancy, eating disorders and alcohol, tobacco and drug use.
It's important to know that the survey results used in Eakes
presentation came from our own local children. In 2004, Search
Institute conducted a survey of 747 Ketchikan youths from grades
six through twelve. These results raised more than a few eyebrows
at the luncheon.
The survey showed family support as one of the highest rated
assets at 65% yet family communication at a mere 29%, indicating
where parents may want to concentrate their efforts. Also startling
was how these 747 local children rated the way they perceive
the value that the community places on them by giving the lowest
rating on the entire survey of only 20%.
At a time when our middle school children have been without a
school to call their own and the high school has recently been
under a veil of gossip it cannot come as a surprise that the
youth in Ketchikan feel devalued by their community.
On a brighter note which bodes well for the community, the ratings
that the young people gave themselves under integrity, honesty
and responsibility were the highest at 70%, 67% and 65% respectively.
With some trepidation Eakes said, "PATCHWorks had the survey
conducted three times; in 1997, 2001 and 2004. We have not gone
up from the last survey, we have not improved. We're missing
the boat, there are a lot of clubs and organizations in this
town, wonderful organizations but we're still not doing better."
A sampling of the First
City Players upcoming musical comedy
"Chaps" kicked off the luncheon.
Kim Henrickson at the keyboard, Jeff Seifert, Jack Shay and Tekla
Photograph by Marie L. Monyak
"In my opinion, there are three things that need to happen,
they're overlapping goals," Eakes explained. "The first
one is building awareness and I think this is happening. Ketchikan
Values Youth, Student of the Week program is where different
youth are recognized for all sorts of positive things."
A popular but costly effort is called the Priceless Campaign.
Eakes said, "We take an asset a week and exemplify it with
a picture and it runs in the newspaper every Wednesday. Another
thing going on is sending newsletters home through the school
system to parents of students in K through 12."
Eakes continued, "The second goal for PATCHWorks is building
understanding and buy-in, that takes a lot more time. Once you
see the survey it's hard to just dismiss it. The research is
very clear, everyone needs to do this, it has to be intentional."
Eakes expressed the third goal, "We have to continue to
create opportunities in this town for community engagement and
asset building activities."
Based on the publication circulated, some easy asset building
- Get to know what young people
around you are really like, not just how they are portrayed in
- Volunteer as a tutor, mentor
or youth leader in a youth service organization.
- Eat at least one meal together
every day as a family and take time to talk about what's going
on in each other's lives.
- Develop opportunities for
youth to contribute to the community.
- Get to know the names of kids
who live around you and find out what interests them.
Eakes offered some well though
out advice based on research and her years of experience, "Instead
of focusing on fixing young peoples problems which we all tend
to do, if we slowly change our focus, don't ignore [problems],
but look at what kids are doing well, build them up, support
them in their strengths, this is key to building assets."
Eakes finished with, "It's
OK to blame others for young people's poor behavior? No, we need
to stop blaming others for the past and start working together
for the future."
Prior to the presentation by
Eakes, a delightful sampling of the First City Players upcoming
musical comedy "Chaps" kicked off the luncheon.
With the accompaniment of Kim
Henrickson on the keyboard, Tekla Helgason, Stuart Whyte, Maria
Dudzak, Jack Shay and Jeff Seifert entertained everyone with
a hilarious act from "Chaps" which takes place in England
during WWII, circa 1944. When Tex Riley and his Singing Cowboys
are no-shows at the local B.B.C. radio station, the British station
employees are frantic to fill the void by impersonating the cowboy
crooners in hopes that no one will know the difference. And as
they say, "the show must go on."
To tell more would ruin the surprise of watching these talented
thespians perform. For those interested in an entertaining and
laughter filled evening complete with a Chuckwagon Barbeque at
Cape Fox Lodge, simple call the First City Players. For ticket
information and times, a link to "CHAPS" is provided
on this page and at the end of the column.
City Councilman Lew Williams will be the guest speaker at next
week's Chamber luncheon on Wednesday March 8th at the VFW on
Tongass Avenue. He will be presenting information on the Port
For more information:
Contact Marie at mlmx1[at]hotmail.com
PATCHWorks - 3054 Fifth Avenue
Ketchikan, AK - 225-4350.
Search Institute at 800-888-7828 or www.search-institute.org
First City Player's CHAPS
Marie L. Monyak is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
A freelance writer is an uncommitted independent writer
who produces and sells articles to a publisher such as SitNews.
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