By Karen Eakes
April 11, 2006
Last weekend a benefit spaghetti dinner and auction was held for Jesse Chapman, a young high school student and soccer player who suffered a serious injury from an automobile accident back in January. The Girls' Soccer Team, with leadership provided by their team captain, and the National Honor Society members, rallied in Jesse's support. Tremendous effort was involved as they planned, organized and sought contributions for the dinner and the auction. The evening was a huge success and a great deal of money was raised to help the family with medical expenses. The level of "caring", "responsibility" and commitment demonstrated by these young women in honoring and helping their friend was truly impressive. In addition, they exemplified "planning and decision-making", "service to others", a sense of "personal power", the opportunity to demonstrate "positive peer influence" and a tremendous "sense of purpose".
In addition, earlier in the year, following a visit to the hospital, the soccer team became interested in The Women's Diagnostic Imaging Suite. They established a goal of raising $5,000 to contribute to this effort. This goal, like the auction for Jesse, was above and beyond the regular fundraising that they have to do in order to travel for soccer competitions. Led by another team captain, they have very nearly reached their goal. Once again "service to others" and a real "sense of purpose" were motivating factors. One of the adults who coach these girls has submitted nominations to the 'Spirit of Youth' organization with hopes to gain recognition for both of these efforts at a State wide level.
For the past three months I have had the opportunity to work with a group of teenagers on a weekly basis. They agreed to work on a Youth Future Search project that PATCHWorks was sponsoring. They believed this event would be beneficial to all who participated and to the future of youth in our town. They came from different schools and learning situations, were thirteen to nineteen years of age, and came from varied backgrounds. However, they learned to work positively together and it was a pleasure to watch. This process involved hard work, lots of discussion, "planning and decision-making" and some "conflict resolution." They demonstrated the true meaning of "youth as resources".
At the actual conference, they, along with the other youth participants, gained a sense that the "community values youth." In addition they developed new and valued "other adult relationships". The adult participants provided "adult role models" and had the opportunity to observe the young people demonstrate the positive values of "caring" for their community, "equality and social justice" in dealing with others and the "integrity" and "honesty" exhibited by the youth as they expressed their opinions and respectfully listened to those of others.
Lastly, approximately three weeks ago, this community lost a very special young woman in another tragic automobile accident. Her death touched many of us and brought us, along with her family, to a state of deep grief and loss. Once again the young people showed us a way to deal with this terrible loss. They cried together, shared memories, wrote songs, and supported each other and the grieving family members. They exemplified "caring", "honesty", and "interpersonal competence" through their sensitivity and empathy for others. At the memorial service and reception they honored their friend through song, dance, special attire and the sharing of memories they had of Milisa.
Ketchikan has a lot to be proud of in the caring, strength, wisdom, sense of responsibility and purpose that is demonstrated by all of these young people. As a community we need to focus on the amazing and very positive things our youth are doing. Give them a hand, a pat on the back, a thank you, and most of all your support. We can all learn from their example.
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