A small crowd gathered at the Bethel library Saturday morning to fight suicide by celebrating life. The Walk For Life was an idea with roots in Gladys Jung Elementary School’s kindness campaign last year, when children were encouraged to be kind to each other.
“And show kids that they have a lot of power to really change their community, and their families, and their friendships for good,” said Kristin Palkki, school social worker, who wanted to take the campaign to the next level.
The response was overwhelmingly positive. Melanie Fredricks brought her children to the event.
“I think it’s important to treat them with respect, and love them, and do what we can to make sure that they grow up happy and healthy and know how much they are worth every day,” said Fredricks.
Even Police Chief Burke Waldron was there handing out reflective Trick or Treat bags to keep the kids safe during Halloween.
“Headlights will light them up and they’ll be seen. Want a Trick and Treat bag, don’t you? Here you go. It’s what it’s for,” said Waldron.
Saturday’s Walk For Life began at the Kuskokwim library with activities and snacks, then everyone walked to the Teen Center through drizzling rain for a fair with more snacks and activities that included painting fingers and toes, pictures, balloons, and even making worry dolls.
Dinetta Morris with the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Center’s Behavioral Health Outpatient Clinic says that making and using a worry doll can teach children how to open up about their concerns.
“Sometimes they feel like they may not have anyone in their lives they can really talk to, so they at least can have the worry doll to talk to,” said Morris. “To gain that confidence so they can feel more comfortable with talking to people.”
Clinic staff also taught kids techniques to control difficult emotions, like anger.
Even KYUK was there to participate on Saturday, not just by holding a microphone and asking questions. Katie Basile, the station’s multimedia director set up a photo booth.
“Kids will come in and have their picture taken, and they write on a white board how they celebrate life, and then we’ll post it to social media,” said Basile.
To find the Walk for Life album pictures please go to KYUK’s Facebook page and look in the Albums section. Basile says that the pictures will be posted on Monday.