Saturday, April 02, 2011

Lead On! Empowering Youth to Make Changes in their Alaksa Communities

I did a short post about the Pathways (formerly DELTA) steering committee I went to (as a member first, blogger second) in Juneau last month, but I didn't get to follow up with more detail.

One of the things most of the people there noted - most have work connected with domestic violence programs - was being surprised at how much good work is going on around the state.  We hear about the levels of domestic violence, but not about all the people quietly (outside the media's eye) working to make things better.  Events like the Respect March the other day get media coverage, but not the day-to-day work small organizations around the state do.

This is all a preface to this video made from video of the Lead On! Conference head last October.  I promise it will make you feel good. Teens excited about being empowered to make a difference.
Lead On! is a committed group of youth and adults from across Alaska that are interested in positively impacting their communities. Lead On! youth and adults work on projects in their communities to promote non-violence and equality in communities.

Three of the people in the video - Lori Greengrass, Timi Tullis, and Linda Chamberlain are on the Pathways steering committee.  And Ati Nasiah attended the meeting as well.

From the LeadOn! site, here are four of the eleven projects the participants did over the year:

Shishmaref- Youth hunting and survival skills trip

Fourteen youth participated in a three day trip to promote the subsistence lifestyle of their people and share their local traditional hunting, harvesting, and safety practices.  This trip helped encourage youth to understand and appreciate and continue the subsistence way of life that is vital to the tradition and culture of Shishmaref.

Sitka- Respect Campaign 

Fifteen students from Mt. Edgecumbe and Sitka High Schools worked collaboratively to create the Sitka Youth Leadership Committee with the goal of promoting respect and building bridges amongst youth.  Students gave trainings on bullying prevention, held forums to discuss healthy relationships and created PSA’s and posters about respect.

Venetie- Traditional Dance Group

Thirty youth have come together with parents and Elder’s to bring back the traditional dances used to bring the Caribou to their people, which has been out of practice in Venetie for over 14 years.  This project helped unite the community of Venetie and the youth will perform their traditional dance at the gathering in Fort Yukon on July 18-20.

Anchorage-  Sexual Assault Awareness

.  .  .   The second project was working with Standing together Against Rape (STAR) and helping them revise their middle school sexual assault awareness presentation.  They helped create a presentation that was more youth friendly and interactive.

And an excerpt from what one participant says:
For me, LeadON! has been this incredible opportunity to actually gain the confidence I need to make positive changes. I’ve met people and made connections that have broadened my mind and pushed my life forward. I participated in workshops during the conference that were very, very far out of my comfort zone, and found myself actually enjoying being out of my “box”. I got to listen to speakers who were so powerful their messages still stick with me. I heard my peers tell stories about the rough parts of their own life, which made me brave enough to do the same.  Yes, it’s a lot for only a few days!    .  .   .

-          Meryl, Tenakee Springs

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