FAIRBANKS — A young man who works with the North Star Youth court, a teen who creates educational computer games and a local self-defense school are all 2014 winners of the Alaska Spirit of Youth award program.
They were honored for their community involvement and chosen by a statewide panel of their peers.
Jezzroy Gordon-Wolfe, 19, was honored for his work with peers at the North Star Youth Court. In his role as a prosecuting attorney, he influences his peers to make positive life choices.
“It’s pretty much something I’ve always liked,” he said. “I heard quite a bit from friends of mine about this thing called youth court, so I looked into it, signed up and went through the training.”
Real attorneys volunteer as legal advisors and mentors for this program, which looks at misdemeanor charges for youths age 12-18.
The idea is that going this legal route will reduce recidivism.
Gordon-Wolfe has been involved for about five years.
“We bill ourselves as a component of restorative justice,” he said. “Basically, we’re trying to repair harm and get offenders re-integrated into society in such a way that it’s not going to hurt anyone.”
The program gives young offenders a second chance.
He participates in the program every week and said he is up to about 100 cases.
Pippin Hum uses his technology skills to empower and engage Alaskans. He has created educational computer games that meet science standards in an effort to get young people interested in science.
He could not be reached for more information as he was busy studying for a college entrance exam.
Orion’s Belt School of Self-Defense was named a youth-friendly business.
The Youth Friendly Business Recognition program honors for-profit businesses who treat youth customers with respect. These businesses hire youths, encourage their success, prepare them for future careers, and support community and school activities for youths.
Orion’s recently moved to a new home on the Old Steese Highway, the building formerly occupied by Spirit of Alaska Credit Union.
“It’s good to be recognized,” owner Jerry Potts said. “It’s a great honor.”
“We’re family oriented,” he said. “We have parents and kids who want to train together.”
Self defense is not a sport, it is an art, he said.
Here’s the difference: “In a sport, you perform to get medals trophies or money,” he said.
Orion’s training is more like a paint-by-number picture.
“We’re gonna teach you how to make dimensional drawings, do shadowing, looking at how to draw trees and animals, and then we’re gonna hand you a blank canvas and have you do what you want,” he said.
The curriculum has requirements, but the way to satisfy those requirements is dependent on individual body styles and mental abilities.
That focus, said Potts, eliminates competition and comparisons between students.
The business opened about nine years ago.
The nomination for Orion’s states the business gives youths responsibility and trusts them with that responsibility. Youths work as independent assistant instructors and assist with younger youth programs. Schedules are often framed around school and other obligations, putting the focus on academics and on students doing their best.
Orion’s supports other projects youths are involved in, and often hosts fundraisers and promotes events of students’ interest. A nonprofit provides scholarships for special trainings and trips for youths.
Orion’s looks for ways to help students hone their skills. For example, a student photographer was asked to take the annual student photos.
Tournaments Orion’s sponsors benefit organizations like St. Jude’s Hospital or the Yukon Quest.