Nenana Wellness Coalition
December 31, 2013
The Nenana Wellness Coalition is an alliance of representatives from various organizations, government agencies, community groups and individuals that meets weekly to discuss, evaluate, coordinate, consolidate, celebrate, masticate and help implement plans for improving the wellness and quality of life in Nenana Alaska.
We had 11 participants today: Kat and Leon McElroy, David Poppe, Jessica Durtsche, Tim Horn, Bonnie Reed, Virginian Young, Evelyn, Johnny and Ephraim Verhagan and Amy Verhagan. We enjoyed beef stew, Ritz crackers with sliced cheese and mixed raisins and nuts for lunch and chocolate chip and coffee bean cookies for dessert.
WELCOME and READING OF MISSION STATEMENT: By this week’s chairperson, Tim Horn.
PRAYER was lead by Evelyn, followed by the PLEDGE OF ALLEGIENCE.
PRESENTATION OF AGENDA AND CALL FOR MODIFICATIONS: There were no additions to the agenda.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES: Posted at the WIN link at http://www.railbelt.org and submitted electronically to the WIN e-list.
INTRODUCTION OF GUESTS: No guests today.
The Bully Project: Jessica Durtsche led discussion; she posed three questions exploring the dynamics of bullying. 1) How do you define bullying? Citing personal experience as well as examples from the Bully Project movie, participants defined bullying as any form of abuse including physical, emotional, verbal or body language to intimidate, harass, denigrate, isolate or exclude others. It was seen as a means of establishing and maintaining social hierarchy. There are aspects of “passing along” anger inflicted upon one onto others or of belittling others to feel better about oneself. Gender differences were noted, with “mean girls” bullying seen as being perhaps more subtle but also maybe more cutting than male-on-male bullying. 2) How can use of social media echo and amplify bullying? There were several aspects of social media it is perceived make bullying easier. There is the relative anonymity of social media, people can create alter egos and mask behind screen names. It is easy to simple hit the Like button to another person’s mean-spirited comment, and also easy to “gang up” on another—safety in numbers and being removed from actual face-to-face contact with the victim. Social media bullying can also occur in the context of a much larger audience when it is electronically based, with abusive incidents being played out repeatedly and shared quickly and easily across many domains. 3) How can adults inside and outside of classrooms create and sustain schools that are safe for everyone? This question engendered the most discussion. A common theme was that safety begins at home; as adults we can set expectations and model behaviors that discourage bullying and that allow youth experiencing bullying to seek and obtain support. A question asked was: how can we expect youth to behave better than the adults around them or the culture in which they are being raised? Thus it behooves us all to look to our own behaviors and attitudes, take positive ownership and be receptive to change ourselves. We must be willing to stand up and intervene when we see bullying and to support others who do so. We would need to be willing to take time and channel energy into the process: attending school board meetings, ascertaining our current policies around bullying, being active in the school/educational processes ourselves. The Freedom Writers, a book and later a movie, was cited as an example of the dramatic changes one determined individual can make even under the most difficult circumstances to turn about the culture of a classroom. Is that sustainable? How do we foster that spirit of change?
Maryellen Robinson will continue this discussion process at the next WIN meeting on January 7th. There will be a community event with finger food the evening of January 17th and an opportunity to enlarge this discussion.
WELLNESS THOUGHT: May 2014 bring peace and good will for all.
Amy: Work has started on the inside of her house and is progressing!
Kat: Community dinner tonight at the tribal hall, food served at 8PM, live music and fireworks at midnight. She will be gone next week, January 7; she and Leon are traveling to Anchorage. They will be touring the Job Corp campus in Palmer and Kat will attend the Certification Commission meeting.
David: He is ready for 2013 to end. He received a Christmas letter from the intern, Rachel. She said she is going for her instrument rating.
Tim: School starts back January 6th. Book Club meets that evening, 7 PM, at the Harvey’s, to discuss Nothing Daunted.
ADJOURNMENT: 2:00 PM