Mental Health & the Alaskan Family 4-Part Series

  

 

The Kids These Days! team delve into issues that affect the well being and mental health of our youth and our families in this special 4-part radio series. From learning what to do in a mental health crisis, to how schools manage behavioral health issues to supporting our caregivers and helping adult children transition to independence - these are our conversations and special reports from Alaska's mental health community.

This series was (or will be) heard on the following stations: KSKA-Anchorage, KTOO-Juneau, KCAW-Sitka, KYUK-Bethel, KOTZ-Kotzebue, KDLG-Dillingham.


• EPISODE 1: Responding to a Mental Health Crisis

Would you know what to do and where to find help if someone in your family was experiencing a mental health crisis? Also on this program we have a special report on first aid for mental health training; and an Alaskan Native perspective on what "mental health" means.

• EPISODE 2:  Supporting Parents & Caregivers with Mental Health Challenges 

Moms, dads, and caregivers with mental health diagnoses need support - where do they find it, when to be open with others, and how to help children understand. Plus, a look at how Alanon works and parents tell us how they stay sane.

• EPISODE 3: Mental Health at School

Children who are experiencing a mental health challenge - whether a long-term diagnosis or a temporary situation - need special support, so how do schools provide that? Plus, a report on children with FASD, a rural Alaskan POV on mental health at school, and middle schoolers tell us how bullying makes them feel. 

• EPISODE 4: Transitioning to Adulthood with Mental Health Challenges

Helping children with a mental health diagnosis transition to adulthood; also, early adulthood is when some serious psychiatric disorders start to become known - how can families, schools and communities support these young people? Plus, a special report on Covenant House; parent tell us how they deal with every day change.  


This series is supported by funds from the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority and is a copyrighted production of the Content Producers Guild.

  

Episode 1: Responding a Mental Health Crisis

 

 

In the first of our special, 4-part series on Family Mental Health, we take a look at what you would need to know if your family experiences a mental health crisis. When do you ask for help? Where do you find help? What if it’s the caregiver who’s in need? And what if it’s a child who’s struggling?

•••

IN-STUDIO GUESTS: Joining us from Alaska's mental healthcare community we have three guests in the studio with host, Shana Sheehy. 

• Randee Shafer is a licensed Clinical Social Worker. She works as the Clinical Supervisor of the Providence Adolescent Residential Treatment Program which provides long-term mental health treatment for teenage girls. 

• Kimberly Pettit is a co-founder of the Psychiatric Emergency Department at Providence Alaska Medical Center where she is currently the Behavioral Health Manager. She also has a private practice in which she provides child custody mediation, adoption, and parenting coordination services.  

• Paul Cornils is the Executive Director of Alaska Youth and Family Network, a peer-run behavioral health agency that provides peer-to-peer support, advocacy, systems navigation and education to parents, children, youth and young adults.


LINKS FROM THIS PROGRAM:

WHERE TO FIND HELP: 

 


FEATURED STORIES:

- Training for crisis response - Contributor Jessica Cochran reports on two programs in Alaska that are training others to respond to mental health crises: The Mental Health First Aid Training program and the Anchorage Police Department's Crisis Intervention Team. 

- A tribal perspective - Evon Peter, Wellness Director at the Maniilaq Association in Kotzebue, spoke with Producer Sarah Gonzales about Native Alaskan perspectives on mental health.  


This series is supported by funds from the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority and is a copyrighted production of the Content Producers Guild.

Listen to the whole series here.

 

 

 

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Episode 2: Caregivers with Mental Health Challenges

 

When mom or dad - or any caregiver of children - struggles with mental health issues it will affect the whole family. On this program we discuss how caregivers can find support for an array of challenges - from long-term diagnoses like depression and bipolar to temporary concerns caused by abuse or difficult relationships. Plus, how open should caregivers be about their mental health issues, support for living with an alcoholic family member and how poverty + depression go hand-in-hand. 

•••

IN-STUDIO GUESTS: Joining us from Alaska's mental healthcare community we have two guests in the studio with host, Shana Sheehy.

• Francine Harbour is the executive director of the Anchorage affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness – or NAMI. She is a teacher and teacher-trainer for the NAMI Family-to-Family class, a free 12-week class where family members come together to learn about mental illness so they can take better care of their ill relatives and themselves. Francine is a family member herself of relatives with mental illness as well as a person in recovery from mental illness.

• Virginia McCaslin is the shelter manager at Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis, Inc – or AWAIC. She’s a long-time Alaskan resident and worked in medical administration before studying psychology at the University of Alaska Anchorage. 


LINKS FROM THIS PROGRAM:

WHERE TO FIND HELP: 


FEATURED STORIES:

- Rural & Urban Parents Tell Us About Staying Sane - We like to hear what listeners think, so we asked people what they do to keep themselves in good mental health. Here are some of the answers we collected around Anchorage and in the interior community of St. Marys.

- Living with an Alcoholic Family Member - Sharing a home or life with an alcoholic makes for a lot of uncertainty and chaos; fortunately there is a support group to help. Al-Anon is based on the belief that alcoholism is a family illness. Family members and friends of alcoholics gather together to share their experiences, and work through the same 12 steps as AA members. Ala-teen is just for young people living with alcoholism in their homes. Contributor Jessica Cochran reports.


This series is supported by funds from the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority and is a copyrighted production of the Content Producers Guild. 

Listen to the whole series here.  

 

 

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Episode 3: Mental Health at School

 

Kids can experience mental health issues and kids spend a lot of time at school. So what happens at school when a student needs extra help - for a temporary mental health issue or a long-term diagnosis? How do schools respond and are they a place to find help? Parents, when should you talk to the school about a child's difficulties - is it a phase, is it affecting academics?

•••

IN-STUDIO GUESTS: Joining us from Alaska's mental healthcare community are two women who work in education. 

• Bonnie Thurston is the Director of Intensive School & Community Based Services at Denali Family Services. Bonnie spent 16 years in rural Alaska as an educator, principal and administrator for the village of Igiugig. In her position at Denali Family Services she oversees more than 50 behavioral health professionals in Anchorage, Palmer and Wasilla. She says she and her staff offer quality, wrap-around services to children and families in need in the Southcentral region.

• Sally Donaldson is a middle school counselor at D’zantikiheeni Middle School in Juneau. She’s also the contact person the for the Juneau School District’s Students/Families in Transition program. Sally has been a mental health professional in a school setting for many years and she’s the former president of the Alaska Association of School Counselors.


LINKS FROM THIS PROGRAM:

LINKS FOR FURTHER LEARNING:

WHERE TO FIND HELP: 


FEATURED STORIES:

- Helping Alaskan Students with FASD - One problem some teachers and school officials often mistake as a mental health issue is actually physical disability. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder occurs in people who were prenatally exposed to alcohol. Alcohol impacts how the brain is built and many of the effects look similar to behavior problems, like willful disobedience. Contributor Anne Hillman learned about how communities and schools around the state are helping kids with FASD succeed.

- A Rural School District Perspective - Alaska’s small communities and schools may have some advantages when it comes to looking out for how kids are doing emotionally  - people know each other and can see when things aren’t going so well. But they also have extra challenges - like fewer specialized staff members to handle a crisis, a lot of alcohol abuse and family trauma. Contributor Jessica Cochran spoke with Scammon Bay assistant principal Harley Sundown about how schools in the Lower Yukon School District try to meet the mental health needs of their students with programs like the Natural Helpers.  

- Tweens Talk Bullying & Mental Health - Being bullied at school can have an impact on a student’s mental well-being and their ability to concentrate. Contributor Jessica Cochran visited the Alaska Native Cultural Charter School in Anchorage to speak with some seventh grade students about their experiences.


This series is supported by funds from the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority and is a copyrighted production of the Content Producers Guild.

 

Listen to the whole series here.

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Episode 4: Transitioning to Adulthood with Mental Health Challenges

 

Kids with mental health challenges eventually grow up and become adults. So how do caregivers and communities help them as they make this major transition? And, since many psychological conditions begin in early adulthood– how can parents, friends and even, colleges, help them understand and learn to manage their own mental health?

•••

IN-STUDIO GUESTS: Joining us from Alaska's mental healthcare community we have two guests in the studio with host, Shana Sheehy.

• Barry Andres is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Clinical Manager of the Child and Adolescent Outpatient Department at Anchorage Community Mental Health Services where one division, theTransitional Aged Youth Program, helps young people move from one form of care to another.

• Georgia DeKeyser is a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner and the Associate Director of the University of Alaska Anchorage Student Health and Counseling Center


LINKS FROM THIS PROGRAM:

WHERE TO FIND HELP:


FEATURED STORIES:

- Parents Talk About Change - We asked a few parents how they deal with transition; we've gathered their answers into a collection of community voices.

- Covenant House Helping Youth in Transition - Young adults who experience mental illness are more likely to be homeless at some point.Covenant House Alaska serves homeless youth through age 20; about 40% of the youth they serve have been in residential treatment for behavioral and mental health issues. Twice as many qualify as beneficiaries of the Alaska Mental Trust Authority, meaning they have a substance abuse problem, mental health issue, traumatic brain injury and/or a developmental disability. Our contributor Jessica Cochran visited Covenant House to learn how the organization helps serve those youth.

- UAA's "AN-CAP" Program Attracts Alaska Native Providers -One new program at the University of Alaska is aimed at increasing the number of “home-grown” mental health care providers in rural Alaska - to help people of all ages. The program is called the AN-CAP program; that stands for Alaska Native Community Advancement in Psychology. It’s a re-tooling of the previous Alaska Native Psychology Program. Contributor Jessica Cochran spoke with Professor EJ David and student Tina Woods to learn more about it.


This series is supported by funds from the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority and is a copyrighted production of the Content Producers Guild.

Listen to the whole series here.

 

 

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Mental Illness Can't Keep You from Great Family Travel

I APOLOGIZE TO the Alaska Railroad reservations agent who took our request for tickets to Talkeetna the weekend before Christmas. Normally I am not so obsessive-compulsive about seating arrangements, but my older son was with us, and he likes to know things ahead of time. 

It’s complicated.

MJ is 18 and, up until this past October, had been out of our home and in residential treatment for a laundry list of issues. Autism spectrum, depression, intermittent explosive disorder; the diagnoses came and went like seasons. My son is one of thousands in Alaska with mental illness, and now he’s back in our lives and part of our traveling family...to an extent, anyway - travel with MJ is different.

There are no last-minute, go-on-a-whim sorts of excursions when he’s with us. Whereas previous journeys were at a fast pace to accommodate multiple attractions, the trips with MJ are filled with alternatives. Alternative sights, alternative food, alternative schedules. For everything, there must be a second scenario ready to be implemented, ASAP. We’ve learned that renting a cabin or suite with a separate bedroom provides quiet relief for anxious moments, that ear buds on a noisy train or in a restaurant are perfectly okay. My husband and I have uncovered unique coping strategies to help soothe tense situations, and the phrase “divide and conquer” has become a whole new mantra, occasionally working well enough for a deep breath of reassurance that yes, indeed, we can do this - while including MJ.

It's MJ experiencing Alaska. 

Why shouldn’t he be allowed to travel in a manner that brings comfort? Alaska is an excellent destination for people like MJ who crave solitude, an absence of artificial noise, and basic, no-frills service. After all, just because hundreds flock to a glacier and wildlife cruise aboard a small ship with blaring microphones and cramped decks doesn’t mean he should, too. Viewing Alaska through his eyes has allowed us a fresh perspective on the travel industry, most especially so in Alaska, where frenetic pacing and long, exhausting days just won’t work. Paying close attention to MJ’s moods, we’ve discovered what parents of smaller children already know; factors like rest, different food, or a lack of exercise can cause night-and-day swings of happy to sad in a matter of moments. Instead of driving five hours to reach a destination, we might go two or never reach it at all, stopping instead to admire a waterfall, toss rocks into a river, or inspect interpretive signs along the highway. 

We’ve learned to slow down, quiet the noise, and throw out expectations long before we shut the garage door behind us. Snowshoes not fitting quite right? No problem, head back to the cabin and delve into a book, we won’t mind. Too many people talking too loud on the train? Pop in those ear buds and move to the back. This family understands. 

In light of negative attention surrounding mental illness in recent days, perhaps others will understand, too. 


Note: This is the last post I shall publish for Kids These Days. I wish to extend gratitude to the producers, writers, and hosts for their incredible insight and support for the difficult job of “raising Alaska’s future;” without projects like this one, that future might be even more confusing. Sarah, Shana, Jamie, and Jessica, thank you for thinking about kids, and the adults who nurture and love their little (and big) souls. 


Erin Kirkland is a freelance writer and publisher of AKontheGO, a website dedicated to Alaska family travel and recreation. She lives a charmed life in Anchorage with her fabulous family.  

6 Ways to Stay Happy and Healthy This Winter

AS THE JOYS and excitement of Christmas and New Year’s pass by, in rolls January, a long and notoriously cold month. Add in the extraordinary darkness of winter in Alaska and you have a recipe for the mid-winter blues. Cheer up! We’re gaining daylight already and soon summer will be here in all her glory. Until then here are 6 ways to help smooth over the winter blues and perhaps even avoid them. These ideas are for kids and parents alike. Well, I guess just about anybody who needs a gentle boost through this time of the year.


Keep those blues away with oranges and reds and greens.

1. Sleep on It Get plenty of rest. Adults need a MINIMUM of 8 hours but try for 9—you’ll feel great. Kids should be getting between 10-12 hours a night. Don’t turn on the TV at night, either—it makes for bad sleep. Instead read a book, do some stretches and relax into sleep.

2. Drink It Drink up your water. How much?? Eight 8-ounce glasses is the suggested amount. For kids, the suggested amount is 5-8 glasses a day. Why drink water? Well being dehydrated can leave you cranky, feeling tired and give you a headache. Hard to feel good when you feel bad.

3. Laugh Yeah this one is hard, when someone says laugh it makes it really hard to, right? But grab a joke book from the library and have your kids read it to you while you’re cooking dinner and you’ll all be laughing soon enough. We have a family wrestling night in our house. We push back the chairs and such and wrestle each other. We always end up laughing at the end. Make life fun, even if you don’t want to, your kids will appreciate it.

4. GET OUT Even if it’s cold out, bundle up and get out there. You need to change up your surroundings and breathe fresh air every day. Got a dog? Grab the leash and off you go. If it’s too slick, put on some ice walkers. If it’s too windy, throw on a windbreaker. Your body will thank you for this.


Let the games begin. Become a bunch of gamers. Board gamers.

5. Game Time We thrive on games. We play something every night in the winter. Games help us laugh, seek revenge on an annoying brother, teach us to take turns and, most of all, spend good quality time together.

6. EAT Eat right or as well as you can. Make sure your meals include lots of fruits and vegetables, as many as a miserable winter in Alaska will provide anyway. Mix it up, try new recipes, make family favorites, get your kids involved and their grandparents. Host small dinner parties or potlucks for fun and diversity. Make sure to take a multivitamin OR other supplements your body needs.

If you feel the blues sneaking up on you, go back through the checklist. Already checked everything off the list and you're not feeling any better? You’re not the only one feeling SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder); let the experts help. Don’t spend another miserable cranky winter in Alaska; make it great!
 

Snow Ice Cream

I'VE BEEN WANTING to do this post since winter began, but it takes one special ingredient that has strangely been lacking this year: SNOW. Only once this season have we been able to make this long-awaited treat. We put out a bowl to collect the sparkling white flecks, hoping the weather report would be correct and the snow would come. The snow never came. We got nothing. Nada. No snow. We kept our bowl out there for days. Then, slowly, we saw snow dancing from the sky, and our bowl began to fill. It was unlike snow that we usually receive. It was wet and heavy. Not soft and fluffy. We didn’t care. We took what we could get. It was time to make SNOW ICE CREAM!

We always made snow ice cream growing up, and have continued the tradition in my own family. It’s exciting for young and old; eating something that had fallen from the sky. You have to gobble it up quickly, though, before it turns into snow soup. But that’s just part of the fun.

I’ve made some changes over the years, but it’s basically made just like regular ice cream, sans eggs. Typical ice cream is made with milk and/or heavy cream, sugar and flavorings. It needs to be churned, then frozen. In this case, we eliminate the need for churning and freezing as we start with "cream" (snow) that’s already frozen.

To prepare for the excitement of making snow ice cream, lay a large bowl outside when there’s a chance of snow. It’s fun for kids to watch and keep checking to see how full the bowl becomes. Collect the rest of your ingredients so you’re ready when the snow comes inside; powdered sugar, evaporated milk and desired flavorings and toppings. I use powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar, as it dissolves quickly and easily, leaving behind no hint of graininess. Evaporated milk can be kept cold in the fridge, or used straight out of the can at room temperature. You can use regular milk, too, but evaporated milk provides some thickness and richness to the ice cream. For flavorings, you can use vanilla or almond extract. Also, we like to add jams and jellies for flavor and toppings. Just like regular ice cream, the topping possibilities are endless.

I confess, I never use a recipe, but for the sake of this post, I’ll provide one just for a guideline.

Snow Ice Cream

8 cups fresh snow*
¾ cup powdered sugar
½ cup evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla or almond extract

Add powdered sugar to bowl of snow, and stir well. Start with ½ cup of powdered sugar, adding more if you desire more sweetness. Slowly add evaporated milk until you achieve the consistency you desire. Keep it relatively thick, as it will melt faster than you can eat it! Add desired flavorings, and continue to mix. Quickly spoon into bowls, and top with your favorite ice cream treats.

*Keep in mind, this was measured with wet, heavy snow. This is best made with our traditional fluffy, dry snow. Only Alaskans will understand the term “dry snow.” It’s best to catch the snow in a bowl left outside, but you can also collect it carefully by shoveling it into a bowl with your hands. Try to avoid any yellow or dirty snow, of course!
 

New Series on Family Mental Health Starts January 8!

Kids These Days! is back with a special 4-part series on Family Mental Health! Join the whole Kids These Days! team as we delve into issues that affect our kids, ourselves and our communities. From learning what to do in a mental health crisis, to how schools manage behavioral health issues to supporting our caregivers and helping adult children transition to independence - those are the conversations on a special mental health series airing Tuesdays in January on KSKA 91.1 FM and here on KidsTheseDays.org.

  • Tues, Jan 8 @ 2 & 7pm: "Responding to a Mental Health Crisis"
  • Tues, Jan 15 @ 2 & 7pm: "Supporting Parents & Caregivers with Mental Health Challenges"
  • Tues, Jan 22 @ 2 & 7pm: "Mental Health at School"
  • Tues, Jan 29 @ 2 & 7pm: "Transitioning to Adulthood with Mental Health Challenges"

DETAILED INFORMATION ABOUT THE SHOW HERE. 

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Being Young in Rural Alaska #12: Growing Up Around Alcohol Abuse

Report no. 12: Growing Up Around Alcohol Abuse

Reporting from: Kotzebue, AK (pop. 3,294)

HOST INTRO: Rates of alcohol abuse in Alaska are some of the highest in the nation and communities across the state regularly suffer from domestic violence, abuse, suicide and other related issues because of it. This is the final installment of the special reporting series, “Being Young In Rural Alaska” from the producers of Kids These Days.

Traveling and reporting in rural Alaska, it’s impossible to miss the signs of alcohol abuse, and yet people often don’t talk about it: it’s such a part of life that it’s almost taken for granted. So what’s it like to be a kid growing up around heavy alcohol use in small-town Alaska? Sarah Gonzales heads to Kotzebue to find out.

Kotzebue is located just north of the Arctic Circle. The community recently voted to have a liquor store in town - the first in a generation. 

 

SARAH GONZALES: Teens in the youth leader program in Kotzebue have some strong opinions about alcohol: 

[Teen voices montage] “I grew up here seeing people drink I’ve heard stories of people dying from overdrinking and I’ve seen what drinking can do to a person and I don’t like it… It hurts the family, too…Drinking can affect the family emotionally, physically and mentally…Fighting and don’t remember the family times and stuff like that…The alcohol and the abuse that I don’t like about this town…” 

Teen Leaders in Kotzebue.

They are outspoken among their peers on the issues of drinking, smoking, using drugs - trying to both educate and set a good example for younger students.  They’ve grown up surrounded by a lot of alcohol: 

[Teen voices montage cont…] “I’ve seen my mom and relatives drinking…My dad and uncle and them and I’ve seen the way they act and I don’t wanna act like they did…After they’ve been drinking how they were, their behavior and in the morning they’d be grouchy and I don’t wanna be like that…It really saddens me to see the people – MY people I grew up with – acting like that….It makes me feel like I’m the adult and they’re the children.” 

Meritha Cappelle is now a young adult in her 20’s. She grew up Kiana, a small village outside Kotzebue; she’s now an administrator within the borough. 

[Meritha Capelle] “A lot! There was a lot of drinking growing up. I mean, it was just the social norm.” 

Capelle says that for her growing up in a place where alcohol was restricted, where people struggled with alcoholism, made it difficult to form any sort of so-called “normal” view of drinking. 

[Capelle] “I would say it wasn’t until I left Alaska that I realized, ‘Oh they have liquor on the shelves here,’ it wasn’t locked up in a whole separate store. There was a different way to drink responsibly or even a healthy way to drink, you know, to be able to stop at a drink or two rather than finishing a bottle in fifteen minutes.” 

Kotzebue voted three years ago to allow alcohol and two years ago the package store and distribution center opened in town. Purchasing liquor is legal in limited quantities and only after paying the city for a permit and a background check.  The system brings in revenue for the city, and allows for pretty strict regulation.  That’s won the support of many community members, including law enforcement. Police Chief Craig Moates says the opening of the store hasn’t made much of an impact on the number of alcohol-related calls that they respond to. 

[Chief Moates] “We respond to a number of calls ranging from theft to assaults. (Sarah: Do you have any way of knowing if the assaults or anything else are related to alcohol?) Well, generically here we say it’s the anomaly when the calls aren’t alcohol-related.”

The "liquor store" in Kotzebue is adjacent to the police station.  

Those who want to get drunk will find a way to get their booze one way or another – bootlegging, homebrew, at a store - which is why some think that teaching youth how to have a healthier relationship with alcohol through moderation could be a more valuable message than the total abstinence one.

Scotty Barr grew up in Kotzebue, he’s now a health educator with Akeela: 

[Scotty Barr] “If we can as parents teach them to stay healthy and not scare them off – you know, alcohol is bad for you, tobacco is bad for you – it’s like you’re fueling them and they say, you know, I’m gonna try this.”

A truck hauling a liquor shipment from airport to package store. Those with a permit are allowed 1 liter of hard liquor, 2 liters of wine and 1 gallon of beer per day.  

But, there’s enough stigma about alcohol abuse, that many moderate users don’t want to engage in any sort of public, alcohol-related behavior says Meritha, like buying a bottle of wine at the local package store... 

[Capelle] “I won’t go there, you know, and that’s the thing – it’s not that I won’t have a drink but I won’t go there…there’s definitely a stigma.”

(From Left) Reporter Sarah Gonzales, Merithe Capelle & reporter Anne Hillman in Kotzebue. 

And while so many people still struggle with alcohol abuse, that stigma may remain. Maniilaq Association is trying new methods in its treatment and recovery programs to try to bring those numbers down.  

Bree Swanson is the Administrator for Social Services there. She says it used to be that the way those services were offered wasn’t successful – helping people get better away from their families and villages meant they often returned to the same harmful environment from before; recovery support groups were often canceled due to lack of participation. Turning that around all came down to dependable facilitators, establishing trust and implementing Inupiaq values. 

[Swanson] “We started out with nobody showing up and now we have 24 in a group, so we had to add more hours just recently.” 

Swanson says their training of Village-Based Counselors helps people where they live - and Maniilaq's starting to implement telemedicine capabilities, too - so providers in the hub of Kotzebue can remotely connect to outlying clients in the villages. 

But turning a life around from alcohol abuse isn’t just quitting the drink, she says, it’s about having work, feeling useful, being surrounded by supportive family and friends, managing everyday stressors. It's really about getting the entire community well. 

[Swanson] “You know you go back into the same community with the same people doing the same things and it’s really easy to get pulled back into that same cycle.” 

Breaking the cycle is a frequent topic of conversation among the teen youth leaders and their advisor, Michelle Woods, is no-nonsense when it comes to discussing this topic with them. 

[Woods] “If you’re gonna stay in the village then you make it a good village. If you don’t like the fact that you can’t walk down the street because you got a bunch of drunks being ass****s then YOU change it and you change it now by your attitude and by what you say to the little kids.”

 

Straight-talking Teen Leaders advisor, Michelle Woods

And the young people want that change. Fifteen-year old Lorena Gephardt wants to go away to college to become a pharmacist and then come back to Kotzebue to live, work and raise her own family. She hopes to do all that in a healthier environment. 

[Gephardt] “With that stuff gone – no more drunks, no more smoking or just a healthier diet – could really make a difference in this community. (Sarah: Do you think you guys can help that happen?) I DO think that because WE are the next generation, we’re the VOICES and we DO make an impact.” 

And they most likely will - if they receive the support they need to make those healthier decisions - for themselves, their families and the community as a whole. 

Reporting from Kotzebue, I’m Sarah Gonzales.


The "Being Young in Rural Alaska" reporting series airs statewide Mondays on Alaska News Nightly at 5pm or 6pm depending on your location. Go here to find your APRN station & schedule.

This series is supported by funds from the Association of Alaska School Boards' Initiative for Community Engagement program.

 

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