By Karen Eakes
May 27, 2008
Approximately 50 adults and youth participated in our recent T.A.L.K. event on May 1st of this year. The goal that evening was to review the positive efforts that are currently benefiting and supporting the youth in our town and then identify areas that are perceived to need further attention. It was a very productive and positive evening with the sharing of many good ideas and perspectives.
The evening started with dinner provided by the culinary arts department at Kayhi and special dinner entertainment provided by Kayhi senior, April Souza. We then had a whole group activity that simulated the vital importance of providing protective factors or assets to young people in order to help them avoid the negative risk behaviors that can harm them physically, emotionally, and socially.
In small discussion groups we brainstormed what is currently happening in the Ketchikan community that demonstrates the developmental asset categories of support, empowerment, boundaries and expectations, constructive use of time, commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies, and positive identity. Each small group discussion reported out to the larger group and long lists resulted from this exercise. It was very apparent that there are many great activities, organizations and individuals that are helping to make Ketchikan a positive place for our youth.
At this point we consolidated our groups into three and turned our attention to needs that still exist. Here again, there were many ideas, perspectives and feelings expressed. One group felt that transportation was a problem for many teens. They also thought a Teen Grind modeled on the Monthly Grind would be beneficial as would summer dances and a continuation of Every Other Tuesday that occurred last summer at the StARTled Salmon.
Another group expressed the need for adult confidants for youth to talk to, the continuing requirement for more things to do and places to go, and a request for more vocational educational opportunities. They also expressed a need for more youth voice in the government, and the recognition that living in the diverse society such as we do, there is an obligation to be taught more and learn more about the differences between cultures.
The third group asked that students be given the opportunity to evaluate their teachers, and stated that drug testing of students was exclusive since it only applies to those who participate in activities. They also wanted to see the community become more involved in the schools using the recent successful Ghost Out project as an example.
The general consensus was that Ketchikan is a positive place for our young people. However, there continue to be unmet needs that require further investigation and effort. Let's see what we can do as a community to fill these gaps!
Received May 27, 2008 - Published May 27, 2008
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