Youth Leaders Return!
After the pandemic hiatus, the Northwest Arctic Borough School District Youth Leaders successfully completed a comprehensive training camp. The Youth Leaders program, which is funded by Red Dog Mine/Teck Alaska, held their annual fall training retreat for the district’s Youth Leaders from September 28th – October 2nd.
A total of 80 middle and high school students and 10 adult advisors travelled from all villages to Kotzebue for the event. Typical weather issues and conflicting scheduled activities created some difficulty with logistics, which resulted in an extra day of training.
Students learned about helping friends and other students who may be struggling with life’s pressures and the difficulty of asking for help. In addition to suicide prevention, other topics include the prevention of sexual assault, bullying, interpersonal violence, drug and alcohol abuse. Students learned about grief and helping people heal.
The training was mixed with fun leadership activities, including the popular Youth Leader Olympics. Team Kivalina were the champions of the Olympics and the fastest student to conquer “the beast” inflatable obstacle course was Shungnak’s Zevadiah Dexter at 14. 5 seconds. Kotzebue’s Dance Fit in the Arctic group provided Zumba dancing for the students and advisors.
Advisors taught breakout learning sessions including impulse control, healthy relationships, making good and healthy choices, responsible finances, friendships, and the power of words. Students learned about their power to influence and role modeling, choosing positivity over negativity, and the availability of many resources. The most popular session was facilitated by Trooper Abe Garcia, who discussed alcohol and drug intoxication through DUI goggles exercise.
Adult guest speakers shared stories of personal survival and offered advice. Veteran Youth Leader Chloe Naylor joined the trainers to share personal stories of her experiences while serving as a Youth Leader while in school. The Red Dog Teck Community Engagement team visited with the Youth Leaders to discuss collaboration as a means to building successful villages.
For the first time in Youth Leader history, two therapy dogs joined the group for introductions to working dogs and to the sharing circle. The dogs proved to be a valuable and welcome comfort to the students who were tackling tough subjects.
A celebration of life concluded the emotional and eventful Youth Leader Retreat, along with a glow in the dark dance party.