Project GRAD Kenai Peninsula Takes Phlight
Project GRAD Kenai Peninsula (PGKP) recently conducted a high energy, multi-day youth leadership retreat in Nanwalek Village. Forty-seven Kenai Peninsula students participated in Derek Peterson’s Phlight Club – a three-and-a-half day retreat promoting youth leadership and empowerment. Students engaged in highly physical activities throughout the day, ranging from the familiar — trust falls! — to the inventive –such as an activity that chains students together as they work together to climb over an “electric” fence without allowing anyone to get zapped. After completing each day’s activities, students gathered to discuss their meaning and significance and to explore insightful ways to apply the Phlight Club lessons to their lives.
PGKP works with Derek Peterson twice each year, and students universally agree that that the retreat is loads of fun, with many returning to PGKP sessions each year. “I have never done anything like Phlight Club with our tribe, school or other programs, and I go to a lot of stuff. It was so much fun! I want to come again,” shared Jasmyn Calhoon, a 10th grade student at Seward High School in Seward, Alaska.
Phlight Club helps students identify their support systems at home, school, and in their community. The program utilizes the full spectrum of colors to help students remember what builds the world around them while also reminding them Red, “The Rule of Five”, represents a student’s personal village made of at least five adults who have high expectations for the student while providing opportunities to grow and teaching important life skills. Orange, “Tangible Strings”, represents supports that students can visibly measure that shape their environments at home, school, and in their community. Yellow, “Intangible Strings”, represents supports that students cannot see that still shape their environments, such as beliefs and values. Green, “Innate Resiliency”, represents characteristics students are born with that will increase the chance that students will remain within their web of support. Blue, “Scissor Cuts/Problem Reduction”, identifies and eliminates conditions that will remove supports from the students’ lives, such as substance abuse or other risk behaviors. Indigo, “Caring for the Carers”, represents supporting those that support students so that the support web will not be demolished. Violet, “Social Norms”, represents the climate and culture of the social environment of students that has been created by the adults around them.
Mike Petersen, Executive Director of PGKP, has been working with Phlight Club for the past three years.“Phlight Club is such a great youth leadership and empowerment experience,” he noted. Students learn through challenging and engaging activities that help teach practical and concrete strategies to grow their web of support and increase their resiliency so they can all can be successful in the pursuit of their dreams.”
PGKP reinforces the Phlight Club lessons learned throughout the year by helping students realize that the more support they have, the less likely they are to slip through the cracks of their web.
“Phlight Club brings equality to the playing field; regardless if you are an 8th grader from a small village site or a 12th grader very involved on a popular, larger school campus. When you enter the door, all youth are equal. Then, through the learning, hands-on Protective Phactor lessons and Adult Anchor support, youth become a Phamily that forms in 3 days time, yet stays bonded afterwards,” shared Bonnie Pierce, the Campus Family Manager at PGKP, adding,” It is the foundation which all youth should feel, in their home, in their community, in their schools; anytime they are around adults, to know they have a strong web of support that includes adult Anchors from all aspects of their lives that will stay connected with them.
The next Phlight Club will be held from April 30th to May 3rd of this year.