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3 Reasons to Pick. Click. Give.

On the fence about making a Pick. Click. Give. donation this year? You’re not alone. Less than 5 percent of Alaskans have donated through Pick. Click. Give. so far this year.

donate-hands-fbTo help you make your decision, take a look at these three great reasons to Pick. Click. Give. to Alaska Children’s Trust:

  1. You love a challenge. Let’s be honest – Pick. Click. Give. is off to a rough start. Donations statewide are down dramatically – including ours. We need your help to reach our $6,000 goal. We understand that not everyone can afford to make a large donation. But if we all give together (even just $25!), it adds up.
  1. You can double your dividend. Why just get one PFD check when you can get TWO?! Pick. Click. Give. when you file by March 31 and be entered to win an extra PFD. Five lucky Alaskans will receive an additional dividend PLUS an extra dividend will go to the nonprofit of their choice.
  1. You love kids and want to keep them safe. That’s the reason we are here! Everything we do is focused on preventing child abuse and neglect in Alaska. Your Pick. Click. Give. donation helps us do that.

So what do you say? Will you help us reach our goal by Pick. Click. Giving just $25?
Do it today by logging onto the PFD website.

If you’ve already donated, don’t worry – it’s not too late! It’s easy to log back into your application and add a Pick. Click. Give. contribution.

Thank you for your support!

Nominations Open for Volunteer of the Year Awards

First Lady Donna Walker announced earlier this month that nominations have opened for the First Lady’s Volunteer of the Year Awards. Started by First Lady Bella Hammond in 1975, the Awards recognize Alaska volunteers who have displayed an extraordinary personal commitment to volunteer service, and have made a major impact on their community or state.

 
“Over the years, we have recognized many exceptional individuals who have done amazing things for Alaskans,” said First Lady Walker. “I am so pleased to continue this tradition, and encourage Alaskans to nominate those in their communities whose selfless efforts make Alaska an even better place to live.”

 
Nominations will be accepted beginning February 6 through close of business on March 6, 2017. They may be submitted online at volunteerawards.alaska.gov, or hard copies are available for pick up at the Governor’s Offices in Anchorage, Juneau, Fairbanks, and Palmer. The First Lady’s Volunteer of the Year Executive Committee will review the nominations, and recipients will be announced in late May.

 
For more information, visit the FLVA Website.

STEM Afterschool Innovation Mini-Grants Provide Youth with Opportunities

By Rachael McKinney, Afterschool STEM Expansion VISTA

The Alaska Afterschool Network, Juneau Economic Development Council, and BP Alaska have awarded $24,000 allocated to 16 programs across the state, with grants ranging from $500 to $2,000. These STEM Afterschool Innovation Mini-Grants are designed to help afterschool programs implement or expand high-quality science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning.noorvik-bg-club

The Alaska Afterschool Network (a program of Alaska Children’s Trust) is grateful for the opportunity to help bring such a great resource to afterschool programs in Alaska.

The need to support STEM learning in-school and after-school is ever-growing. Students spend less than 20 percent of their waking hours inside a school-day classroom, and a number of studies show that STEM learning during the school day is necessary but may not be sufficient for lifelong STEM literacy. Afterschool provides opportunities to reinforce in-school STEM learning through engaging, hands-on STEM activities that can garner and sustain student-interest in these fields.

Estimates show that 80 percent of future jobs will require STEM literacy, with employment in science and math occupations growing 70 percent faster than the overall growth of occupations. A strong, educated STEM workforce is critical to the continued growth of Alaska’s economy. Alaska must provide a STEM education pipeline for students to become effectively educated with the critical thinking and 21st century technology skills needed to tackle the rapidly changing economic, communication, and physical environments affecting Alaska.

However, many students, especially girls and those from underrepresented minorities, find it difficult to envision themselves in these careers. Participation in afterschool STEM programing has been correlated with reducing STEM inequities and increased likelihood of students selecting science-related college majors and careers.

peak-2STEM Afterschool Innovation Mini-Grants are aimed at fostering this process of sparking youth interest in STEM for a more productive and innovative future workforce. From opening a bakery to creating an automobile engineering summer camp, the grant recipients will help provide Alaska youth with valuable skills to prepare them for success in college, career and life.

The Alaska Afterschool Network thanks all of the grant applicants for their commitment to positive youth development and informal STEM education. In total, 53 grant applications were submitted by a diverse group of applicants, including programs from nonprofits, public schools, and libraries spanning the entire state, with requests adding up to more than $83,000. The Alaska Afterschool Network and our partners are committed to increasing resources and opportunities so all Alaskan youth have the opportunity to engage in STEM learning during out-of-school time.

The 2017 STEM Afterschool Innovation Grant recipients are listed below.

Boys & Girls Club of Alaska – Nome Community Center | Nome, Alaska
The Clubhouse plans to teach youth that we are all changing individuals and how these changes benefit everyone through the exploration of habitats and solar energy. Funding will be used to purchase habitat supplies, microscopes, solar car kits, and wind turbine experiment kits. This will allow the clubhouse to increase the frequency of STEM offerings and to take their STEM programing to the next level.

St. Paul Preschool | St. Paul, Alaska
Funding will be used to purchase a Discover STEM Lab to be used on a rotational basis, exposing students to multiple STEM modalities by promoting innovation and inquiry, developing problem-solving, and encouraging mathematical reasoning skills within their afterschool program.

Boys & Girls Club of the Kenai Peninsula – Kasilof Clubhouse | Kasilof, Alaska
The Kasilof Boys & Girls Club Bakery will encourage the use of engineering, science, and mathematical skills among club members. Youth will create a student-run bakery business by constructing a storefront for sales, using data analysis to create and maintain spreadsheets of sale records, and utilizing math and life science skills in baking and nutritional labeling.

Sitka Sound Science Center | Sitka, Alaska
STEM grant funding will be used to create a new one-week summer camp called REVolution Camp, which will focus on automobile engineering, fuel systems, and design and product testing. The camp will expose students to the ideas of automobile mechanics, renewable energy systems, design requirements, and testing engineering.

Cordova School District | Cordova, Alaska
Funding will be used to help purchase a Little Bits Pro Library to provide students with more opportunities to learn and create. The Little Bits Pro Library will enable youth to create a comprehensive makerspace that engages them in hands-on STEM activities.

Meadow Lakes Elementary | Wasilla, Alaska
The Meadow Lakes Einstein’s Club will use funding to purchase materials and accessories to teach students problem-solving, engineering, and computer programming. Students will engineer things such as index card towers and paper tables; robots will be used to teach youth about coding and programming.

Teeland Middle School | Wasilla, Alaska
Funding will be used toward the purchase of a replacement 3D printer, which will be used to manufacture robot frames and used as a vehicle for teaching computer programming to students.

Discovery Southeast | Juneau, Alaska
Discovery Southeast will incorporate an explicit STEM focus into its Outdoor Explorers Summer Camp. Three weeks of the camp will be dedicated to Ocean, Salmon, and Rocks, during which campers will pose questions, conduct investigations, collect data, and create a project to share the information they have gathered.

Friends of the Zach Gordon Youth Center | Juneau, Alaska
STEM grant funding will assist Body and Mind Afterschool Activities in providing new STEM curriculum focusing on snow science, space, and birds.

Fairbanks North Star Borough School District 21st CCLC | Fairbanks, Alaska
Funding will be used to purchase three OSMOs classrooms sets that will be shared across 21st CCLC programs in Fairbanks using their Afterschool Lending Library. The OSMOs expose students to problem-solving, coding, mathematics, and computational skills.

Trailside Discovery | Anchorage, Alaska
Trailside Discovery will use grant funding to purchase a JASON Rigamajig to be used in Anchorage School District Title I schools that operate 21st CCLC programs. The Rigamajig is a large-scale building kit used for hands-on free play and learning.

The Arc of Anchorage | Anchorage, Alaska
STEM grant funding will purchase a modular Magnetic Levitation (Maglev) race track and corresponding Maglev cars. Participants will be able to building different tracks, and will then break into teams to build the Maglev cars that will be used for racing. Concepts such as aerodynamics will be taught to students to help them continually rebuild and improve their engineering designs.

Anchorage Public Libraries | Anchorage, Alaska
A geocaching program for youth grades 3-5 called “Geocaching – Hi-tech Hide and Seek” will be rotated throughout programs held in Anchorage’s public libraries. Geocaching will increase youth’s early exposure to real-world mathematics, geospatial science, and GPS technology, while also building upon critical thinking skills, problem-solving skills, and teamwork.

Boys & Girls Club of Alaska – Woodland Park | Anchorage, Alaska
Funding will be used to create a DIY STEM program at the clubhouse. Four units will be introduced: Energy and Electricity, Engineering Design, Food Chemistry, and Intro to Aeronautics. The program will promote interest and awareness of STEM among club members.

Camp Fire Alaska – Tyson Elementary and Fire Lake | Anchorage/Eagle River, Alaska
Staff members of Camp Fire Alaska will receive specialized training in STEM activity facilitation, focused on supporting youth to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Additionally, staff will receive an orientation to the STEM supplement of the Youth Program Quality Assessment tool in preparation for observing and measuring quality of STEM programing. Camp Fire staff will then implement 12, pre-planned activities intended to introduce youth to basic STEM concepts.

We Can All Pick. Click. Give. Something

Pick. Click. Give. is off to a rough start this year. pcg-logo-fb-profileThe number of people giving and the amount pledged so far is down dramatically from last year. (There is some good news – the people who are giving are giving at the same level as previous years.)

We at Alaska Children’s Trust are seeing the change in Pick. Click. Give. contributions, too. Last year, Alaskans donated $6,125 to ACT through Pick. Click. Give. This year, a month into the campaign, we’re at $700. (A big thank you to those who have donated so far!)

It’s a hard year for everyone. Money is tight for a lot of Alaskans, and there’s a lot of uncertainty about the state’s economic future. And unfortunately, money troubles can put even more stress on families, and sometimes that stress can lead to increased risk for child abuse and neglect.

So what we’re saying is that your support is more important than ever.

We understand that not everyone can afford to make a large donation to support our mission to prevent child abuse and neglect. But, as the saying goes, every little bit helps. Seriously. No matter how little that is.

Our 2017 Pick. Click. Give. goal is modest. We want to raise $6,000, which is just under what you all donated last year. We’re already at $700, so that means $5,300 left to go. Now $5,300 might sound like a big number, but look at it this way: If 212 people gave just $25, we’d be at our goal!

So what do you think? Can you be one of the 212 people who step up and say, “I can give $25 to help prevent child abuse and neglect!”?

And if you completed your PFD application but have not participated in Pick. Click. Give., remember that you can log back into your PFD application and make your Pick. Click. Give. contribution.

Together we can prevent child abuse and neglect.

 

Champion for Kids Honored at Fundraising Reception

A total of 125 guests attended the Alaska Children’s Trust (ACT) fundraising reception hosted by Alaska First Lady Donna Walker and Ms. Toni Mallott at the Governor’s House in Juneau on January 31.

annaOne of the highlights of the evening was the announcement of the 2017 Southeast Champion for Kids Award recipient: Sen. Anna MacKinnon, who was integral in ACT’s transition from a state organization to an independent nonprofit.

In 2008, ACT began this journey in partnership with our sister organization, Friends of Alaska Children’s Trust (FACT). The goal was to transform the organization into an independent nonprofit in order to better serve the state. However, for the first year, this idea faced challenges that prevented the transformation from occurring.

Anna recognized how the transition to an independent nonprofit could strengthen ACT’s mission and allow us to better serve Alaska’s children and families. When the new legislative session began in 2009, Anna introduced two bills that would support ACT’s goal. The bills languished through two legislative sessions.

But Anna never gave up. With her commitment to ACT’s mission and the children of Alaska, the bills passed in 2010. On July 9, 2010, Gov. Sean Parnell signed the bills into law, giving birth to the Alaska Children’s Trust we know today.

Without Anna’s support, perseverance and political savviness, our goal would never have been achieved. 

In addition to her important role in ACT’s history, Anna has an extensive history of being an advocate for our children. Prior to joining the Legislature, Anna was the executive director of Standing Together Against Rape (STAR). Under Anna’s leadership, STAR became active in engaging the community through education and general outreach to prevent child sexual abuse.

More recently, Anna helped the Legislature forge a deal to have Erin’s Law passed. In 2014, Rep. Geran Tarr introduced Alaska to Erin’s Law, which would require all public schools in Alaska to implement a prevention-oriented child sexual abuse program. The bill unfortunately did not pass in 2014.

The bill was reintroduced in 2015 and was expanded to included teen dating violence (Bree’s Law) and became known as the Safe Children’s Act. The bill faced some hurdles, which could have prevented it from passing again. However, during an extended session, Anna found common ground between the various parties to help ensure its passage – resulting in a stronger safety net for our children.

shirleyFor a year after the Safe Children’s Act was passed, Anna was a member of the committee that presented recommendations to the Department of Education and Early Development.

In addition to thanking the 2017 Southeast Champion for Kids, guests at the Juneau reception also heard from Shirley Mae Spring Staten, who shared about starting the Hiland Mountain Lullaby Project – a project supported by ACT. The Lullaby Project, which started in June 2015, pairs incarcerated women with Alaska musicians to create beautiful and personal lullabies for their children at home.hope-quilt

A piece titled “Hope Quilt” from the Unheard Voices|Unheard Wisdom exhibit was also on display at the January 31 reception. The art show focused on domestic violence and child abuse will be in Anchorage in April as part of ACT’s activities for Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month.

Alaska Children’s Trust thanks everyone who joined us at the Juneau event to show support for our mission.

Together we can prevent child abuse and neglect.

Nominate a Champion for Kids Today!

Nominations due Wednesday, March 1

Do you know someone in Interior or Northern Alaska who has demonstrated a dedication and commitment in working toward preventing child abuse and neglect? Nominate the individual for the Champion for Kids Award, presented by Alaska Children’s Trust.

Champions for Kids have committed their time and resources to helping children have a safe place to live, learn and grow, whether it is through their professional employment, volunteer work, community activities, or actively working with children.

All across Interior and Northern Alaska there are extraordinary individuals who are ensuring our children live in safe, stable and nurturing communities. Help us thank these individuals by nominating them for the 2017 Alaska Champion for Kids award.

To nominate someone, please complete our Champion for Kids Award application. Applications are due Wednesday, March 1, 2017.

For additional information about past award recipients, the current Champion for Kids, and the application process, please visit our website.

 

A Letter to Those Living in a Marijuana Decriminalized State

By Mishelle Nace, MD

cookiesDear Those Living in a Marijuana Decriminalized State,

Now that I am legal in Alaska, it’s going to be a lot easier for children to come in contact with me. For some kids it won’t be a problem; they may not even notice me. For others I could have a much bigger impact and I could lead them to a place they had not planned on going. It is not my intent to harm anyone, so I figure if I want to keep kids safe, it’s best to clarify a few things.

Just because I am legal, it does not mean I am safe for all. To be clear, although the law states I am legal for adults, that does not stand true for those under 21. There are reasons for that distinction:

Some studies show concerning things about me, and how I might affect developing minds. Teenagers’ brains are not fully developed until closer to their mid 20s, and experimenting with a mind-altering substance during this crucial growth period can lead to a less desirable path of maturity. Studies have also shown that adolescents that use me regularly have a more challenging time with school work and have a higher risk of not completing high school. Who wants that outcome? And addiction? Yep, that can happen too. People who start using me at a younger age are more likely to have an addiction problem than people who wait until adulthood to use me.

gummi-bearsSometimes, I make people not care as much as they should. If an adolescent is facing a problem, they may decide in that moment they don’t want to deal with it. If I am accessible, they might opt to use me to escape the problem instead of figuring out a better or longer-lasting solution. Although that might feel better to them in that moment, over time, that can really be a disservice to their developing brain. And if they choose to use me repeatedly during this crucial time of emotional maturing, they very well could miss out on effectively learning how to deal with complex issues that pop up on all of us throughout life. That is not an easy path to fix or rewire once you are in adulthood.

And it is no secret that when I am onboard, I make people approach things differently than they may have otherwise. Teenagers already tend to be bigger risk-takers than adults, in general. When I enter the equation, I can further impact risk-taking behavior. Things that may have been processed as “a bad idea” when sober now have fewer common sense barriers to keep them from being put into action. Things like driving under the influence when reflexes are not as quick, having relationships not in one’s best interest or failing to do something crucial that got overlooked while under the influence.

candyHere are a few things from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services’ website that you can do to help keep your kids safe:

  • Set clear rules and expectations regarding use.
  • Make it a part of your life to be a part of your children’s social life at home and school by talking with them regularly.
  • Start conversations about marijuana early, even while they are still in elementary school and don’t yet know the dangers.
  • When they do talk, listen carefully and respond without judgment.
  • Coach them on how to say no to marijuana and other drugs.
  • Monitor your own attitude and actions regarding me as this may affect their approach and decisions about me as well.

Want more tips on how parents can help prevent underage marijuana use? Check out this in-depth article from Seattle Children’s Hospital.

I do have to add one more significant concern about me before I sign off – the danger of young children accidentally consuming me because I look like candy or a sweet treat. With my legalization, you’ll find me in new, varied product forms, including edible products of all sorts, and the packaging can be very deceiving, or non-existent even. For example I can be disguised in a brownie, cookie, gummy bear, bread and many other forms.

To help avoid unintended ingestions by children, the State of Alaska website recommends the following regarding safe storage:

  • Out of sight
  • Out of reach
  • Clearly labeled
  • Stored in a child-resistant container
  • Kept in a locked cabinet or box (helps the adolescents not get to me too)

If you are concerned a child has consumed me by accident, call Poison Control immediately (1-800-222-1222).

Now that I am going to be around more, there are many great resources to help families keep safe and make healthy choices for their families including this Alaskan website.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I feel it is my duty to help make you aware of some of my concerns.

Regards,

Marijuana

mishelle_nace_md-2013-smallMishelle Nace, MD, is the pediatric medical director at Tanana Valley Clinic in Fairbanks, Alaska.