Reaching the Summit, Now the Real Work Begins

Posted December 12, 2016 at 5:45 am by

The San Juan Island Prevention Coalition Teams - Back row: Cindy Gutierrez, Joyce Wells, Cynthia Stark-Wickman, Andy Gutierrez, Zach Fincher, Middle row: Inga Harold, Eva Sanabria, Lilah Savlen, Luke Fincher, Front row: Debbi Fincher, Robin Taylor, Chiara Power - Contributed photo

A group of local teens, their adult team advi­sors and chap­er­ones made the annu­al trip to Yaki­ma for the Wash­ing­ton State Pre­ven­tion Sum­mit. Our youth teams from San Juan Island are spon­sored with grants through the San Juan Island Pre­ven­tion Coali­tion. Our teams are Rock Sol­id and H.O.T.S., Jr (Help­ing Out Teens Soci­ety at Fri­day Har­bor Mid­dle School), which togeth­er includ­ed: four 7th graders, an 8th grad­er, a 9th grad­er and an 11th grader.

Over 400 stu­dents from across the state join forces to learn more about the world of Pre­ven­tion and gain new lead­er­ship skills. These teens are tasked with return­ing to their com­mu­ni­ties and putting togeth­er a project in pre­ven­tion. This is where the real work begins. We ask you to help sup­port these youth as they work on ways to help cre­ate pos­i­tive change in our com­mu­ni­ty and schools.

Upon reflec­tion, some of our stu­dents shared their insight to this 2 day Sum­mit. Chiara Pow­er, a 9th grade stu­dent at Fri­day Har­bor High School shares,

“It real­ly was a plea­sure to see so many young peo­ple open their minds to pre­ven­tion. They all were there for a rea­son and they all made it count. They sat through a four hour lec­ture and paid atten­tion, took notes, and most impor­tant­ly, took it to heart. We had up to 5 lec­tures in a row and I was amazed how every­one stayed engaged and focused. Because they knew it was for us. To see peo­ple do that real­ly restored some faith about our gen­er­a­tion. It was an amaz­ing expe­ri­ence and I hope I get to go to anoth­er one.”

Zach Finch­er, a junior at Fri­day Har­bor High School recalls, “The Pre­ven­tion Sum­mit cov­ers many top­ics from Depres­sion to Gam­bling, but I par­tic­u­lar­ly liked the one called Lead­er­ship 201: Writ­ten Com­mu­ni­ca­tion. I gained new insights and sharp­ened my skill set through the pow­er of the writ­ten word. These are skills I can use now and will help me as I plan my future.” This was Zach’s 6th year attend­ing the Pre­ven­tion Summit.

Luke Finch­er, Zach’s younger broth­er and 7th grad­er at Fri­day Har­bor Mid­dle School, made the trip for the first time. Luke shares, “I learned that 1 in 8 ado­les­cents in WA. report­ed being depressed. I learned ways I can help oth­ers strug­gling with depres­sion and to break the silence around talk­ing about youth suicide.”

Not only do the youth have these pow­er­ful learn­ing moments at the Sum­mit, but the adult chap­er­ones and team advi­sors share sim­i­lar sen­ti­ments. Cindy Gutier­rez, San Juan Island Pre­ven­tion Coali­tion Trustee admits, “I feel much more con­nect­ed to our goals as a coali­tion, hav­ing the oppor­tu­ni­ty to expe­ri­ence the Sum­mit first­hand. I learned some­thing new in each work­shop, but hon­est­ly, I most­ly enjoyed being with the kids and soak­ing up their enthu­si­asm. I hope to attend more con­fer­ences in the future. I under­stand more of our mis­sion now!”

Nav­i­gate Your Future was this year’s theme. We are grate­ful to the pre­ven­tion work­force in our State that col­lab­o­rates and orga­nizes such mean­ing­ful, enrich­ing and cul­tur­al­ly appro­pri­ate train­ing and net­work­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties for youth, vol­un­teers and pro­fes­sion­als who are work­ing to pre­vent sub­stance abuse, vio­lence and oth­er destruc­tive behav­iors in their com­mu­ni­ties. As well, the Sum­mit inte­grates pre­ven­tion efforts with pri­ma­ry health­care and men­tal health pro­mo­tion. The San Juan Island Pre­ven­tion Coali­tion mis­sion is to reduce sub­stance abuse in youth and to cre­ate a com­mu­ni­ty cul­ture sup­port­ing healthy choic­es and respon­si­ble behav­iors in youth and adults. Our Exec­u­tive Coor­di­na­tor, Cyn­thia Stark-Wick­man, is instru­men­tal in pulling togeth­er these funds, often writ­ing grants, to sup­port youth lead­er­ship train­ing, a hall­mark of our SJIPC efforts since 2004.

Watch for good things to come from this expe­ri­ence and these youth, as they share the pow­er of pre­ven­tion in their upcom­ing projects. Thank you for sup­port­ing these teens and the mis­sion of the SJIPC. Here’s to a Healthy 2017!

Deb­bi Fincher,
Rock Sol­id Team Youth Advi­sor & SJIPC Media

One way you can sup­port our local youth is to take the annu­al com­mu­ni­ty sur­vey cre­at­ed by the State. This anony­mous sur­vey is part of our fund­ing require­ments by the State and helps guide future plan­ning for pre­ven­tion pro­gram­ming. Thanks!

Online Sur­vey English:

Online Sur­vey Spanish:

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  1. Deb­bi your awe­some, so are your kids & all who try to make this world a bet­ter place! Hats off to you, my dear!! XO

    Comment by alison caruso on December 12, 2016 at 8:09 am
  2. Thank you Ali­son Caru­so for your kind com­ments and sup­port! It’s so appre­ci­at­ed! Deb­bi, Zach, Luke and the whole SJIPC Team! Here’s to a Hap­py & Healthy 2017!

    Comment by Debbi Fincher on December 12, 2016 at 11:40 am

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