SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Ketchikan Youth Initiative Scores Big!
By Nancy Coggins


March 30, 2008

Dear Editor,

When recently talking on the phone with an older female family friend in North Carolina, she was complaining about the teenagers who are into drugs and other destructive behavioral activities. So I told her about the Ketchikan Youth Initiative (KYI) and its goal to renovate a vacant building [the Water Warehouse (WW)] to benefit teenagers. In this plan, the teenagers would be its leaders, and we adults, their mentors. Our aim, I explained, is to provide a safe place for teenagers not only to hang out but also to get a chance to run a small business like an ice cream or a gift shop. The whole idea gave her a lot of hope for America's teenagers.

At the 03/30/08 City Council Meeting, teenagers Allan and Dano shared their "how-to" and "why" visions for a youth-run WW within KYI. Allan cited the list of rules used concerning a couch at Kayhi as a model for how to run WW. Then, Dano explained that WW would give teenagers a chance to start learning how to make an impact on society, which, as adults, they would later be expected to do. The one young adult spokesman, Ty, provided meeting attendees with some details about the challenge of renovating this building and the AmeriCorps team to arrive mid-April to start it.

Finishing my conversation with my NC friend, the woman concluded that we must have smart kids among the 20 who signed the petition to help accomplish this KYI goal. I replied, "No, it's just that we mentoring adults in this town expect leadership from our youth, and in this KYI project we have given them a chance to create their own businesses and activity programs within this building."

After I hung up with her, I suddenly realized there's nothing wrong with America's teenagers who go astray; the fault often lies within adults. The adults in most communities (as we have discovered from our online research of centers for teenagers) do not expect their youth to be leaders. However, in a few towns, the adults have encouraged their youth to lead. And, from our preliminary experience here in Ketchikan, AK, as soon as we adults gave our youth a chance to lead, many teenagers stepped up to the plate, glad to assume leadership roles.

My best,

Nancy Coggins
KYI Adult Volunteer
Ketchikan, AK

Received March 28, 2008 - Published March 30, 2008


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