By Valerie Hendel
May 22, 2006
Let's Talk (Teens and Adults linking in Ketchikan) represented the first of a possible series of intergenerational discussions around the issue of teen drug use. The event was sponsored by PATCHWorks, Alaska ICE (Initiative for Community Engagement), and the Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District and was organized by Karen Eakes, Executive Director of PATCHWorks.
The Let's Talk event was an offshoot of a March 2006 Youth Future Search Action Team meeting. Charged with "making Ketchikan a great place to live and come back to," the Youth Future groups identified concerns. Five action teams were formed one of which focuses on education. Their priority is the development of a peer on peer mentoring program around the issue of drug use. "Tonight represents a continuation of those discussions and concerns raised," explained Karen Eakes at the opening of the Let's Talk discussion.
Following a time of music and supper provided by Kayhi Wind Quintet and Kayhi Culinary Arts Program, the room divided into tables. Discussions were led by Youth Discussion Leaders. The ages represented at the tables ranged from perhaps 10 years to 70 years and conversations were lively and important. Dialogue and discussion was "done with respect and no blaming or finger pointing," according to the guidelines set by Karen. The room was charged with "finding consensus on how to change or improve identified areas of concern." It was more than refreshing to look around the room and see heads bent together in earnest conversation. And there was plenty of good humor as well. Groups were, in fact, reluctant to stop.
Youth Leaders shared their group's findings at the end of the evening. Teens and adults expressed concern about drug use among young people and consensus was that trust needs to be developed in order to meet the challenge. Was the night a success? "The primary goal of the evening was to get people talking and listening to each other and I think we met the goal quite successfully," says Karen. Future Talk events are being discussed.
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