PUBLISHED: 4:14 PM on Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Patchworks promotes healthy atmosphere for young people
A brief on business with five questions
Karen Eakes is sxecutive director of Patchworks in Ketchikan. Here are her answers to five questions.

What is Patchworks?

It's a small non-profit that started in the early '90s to address health issues in the community - Planned Approach to Community Health. The focus now is to promote a healthy atmosphere for young people. We adopted the SEARCH Institute's developmental assets program.

What are some of the assets?

There are 40 assets divided into eight categories like support, empowerment, and constructive use of time. - twenty are considered internal assets like personal responsibility, honesty, and integrity and twenty are external like a caring school environment and positive adult role models.

What do you do?

One thing Patchworks does is an annual survey of students. The areas of strength most consistently listed have been "family support," "personal responsibility" and "integrity." What is most listed as a weakness is that there is no place for young people to hang out, do homework, listen to music, and just spend time with friends. Young people want to be heard, to have a voice in the community. Creating a healthy environment is a community effort with important parts for everyone - businesses, government, and the schools and well as families.

What is your background for this work?

I was an elementary school teacher for 27 years. Twenty-two of those years were in a school where two teachers taught as a team in multi grade classes. I imagine I've taught over 1000 students. I was on the board of Patchworks for a number of years and have always been a strong advocate for its goals.

What do you say to people who think this is just a "touchy-feely" endeavor?

I think the attitude that "self esteem" is somehow suspect has faded somewhat. Its been proven that how kids feel about themselves relates directly to their success. Recent research on how the brain works, especially young people's brains, shows relationships are key to success for kids. It comes down to just that "relationships."