A summer program starting in June will lead kids on a series of hikes and teach them skills like first aid, navigation, and bear safety, with a healthy dose of sports.
The Kodiak Area Native Association’s Meth and Suicide Prevention Initiative together with Healthy Tomorrows is pairing up on Explore the Rock 2017.
Prevention Grants Coordinator Mathew Kozak says group leaders take the kids along trails and play sports like ultimate Frisbee. That’s been popular with both the younger and older kids, and Kozak says it’s up to them what direction the program takes.
“We get feedback from them after every hike saying, hey, we’re going here next week, this is going to be the topic. What kind of stuff do you guys want to do apart from that? What kind of games might you want to play, what kind of sports or recreational equipment can we bring? And then, at the end of the summer, we ask ‘em what stuff should we bring back, what can we do better?”
Kozak says the program could serve as a venue for group leaders to speak with the kids about any life issues they may be experiencing. But it’s also just a way for kids to get out of the house and spend time on fun, productive activities.
“It’s been shown through decades of research that participating in outdoor activities, in sports and physical activity, is a huge protective factor for substance abuse, depression, suicidal ideation, and a bunch of other negative outcomes.”
The trails the kids will hike over the course of the program include Pillar, Abercrombie, and Termination Point.
Kozak says the program is free of charge and open to all Kodiak student grades 6 – 12.