SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Ketchikan Wellness Coalition: Letter to the community
By Karen Eakes


March 08, 2010

In July of 2006, the United Way of Southeast Alaska sponsored the United Way Compass II Community-Building Assessment in Ketchikan. The McDowell group completed this assessment with 300 randomly selected phone interviews, ten focus group discussions with different segments of the community and individual interviews with community citizens and leaders. The comprehensive report on the results was released in January of 2007 and copies were distributed to our governmental bodies and throughout the community.

Through careful analysis of the quantitative and qualitative date in this report, six broad areas or themes were identified. At this point it appeared that the process might just end. However, a small group of concerned citizens felt strongly that the needs identified through this process needed to be addressed rather than "put on the shelf" as so often has happened through survey activity in the past.

This group met over a two year period bringing new partners to the table and holding one community-wide meeting in January of 2008 that focused on quality of life issues and factors that make a healthy community. In March of last year another community forum was held to review information from the Compass II Assessment and the Ketchikan Wellness Coalition (KWC) was formally established in April 2009 as the means to begin working on the identified needs in this assessment.

The vision of the KWC is to establish Ketchikan as a vibrant (healthy) community to live in and move to. The mission is to promote community wellness through assessment and action. We are an action oriented organization with a focus on seeking solutions through positive activity, followed by valid assessment of progress.

The KWC currently has seven taskforces that operate under the umbrella of a steering committee that serves as the conduit for communication and activity between the taskforces. The steering committee is made up of representatives from each taskforce and a few members at large. We have elected officers, a set of bylaws, and are in the process of applying for our 501(c)3 status.

Each of the taskforces has been given the responsibility of forming short and long term goals under the general parameters of their specific themes or areas of concentration. Much has been accomplished this first year and we want to celebrate that fact. However, our efforts are only in the beginning stages. The taskforce titles and their current short or long term goals are:

Empowering Youth - Increasing the local high school graduation rate;

A Diverse Year-Round Economy - Surveying businesses as to their costs due to high employee turnover;

Uniting Around Life Challenges - Coordinating community efforts with our homeless population;

Strengthening Cultural Unity - Recognizing and building on our diversity and our similarities by bringing Challenge Day to Ketchikan;

The Costs of Substance Abuse - Sponsoring a prescription drug disposal program;

Promoting Respectful Relationships - Building self-esteem through "Girls on the Run";

SPEAK - Suicide Prevention Education Awareness in Ketchikan through training, education and outreach.

The Ketchikan Wellness Coalition seeks community support and participation on a larger scale. We know that there are many serious health and wellness concerns within our community. They need to be effectively addressed and it will take the effort and support of the whole community. Please attend our first year celebration on Tuesday, March 16th at Ted Ferry Civic Center from 6:30 - 8:30 pm to learn more about our organization and how you can get involve.

We all like to pride ourselves on the special beauty of Ketchikan. Our goal is to become a community that is as beautiful on the inside, as we are on the outside.

Karen Eakes
Ketchikan, AK


Received March 05, 2009 - Published March 08, 2010



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