The Haines Borough’s new Community Youth Development (CYD) director Al Giddings said he wants to get away from the historically basketball-centric nature of the program and expand it to include a wider variety of activities.
Not that he has anything against basketball – Giddings fully supports CYD basketball and his wife, Lori, is a coach in the program – but in talking to youth around town and other members of the community, he realized there is also a desire for hiking, shooting and skateboarding events.
“I’ve talked to a few of the skateboarders and they feel they are (perceived as) the ‘bad boys,’ per se, but they would be open to an organized competition or downhill competition that would bring a positive light as far as what they do,” Giddings said.
Giddings, who started in December, said he has been talking to previous CYD directors and residents to start organizing events. He attended the Icebreaker middle school basketball tournament in mid-December, and organized the transportation, per diem allowance for coaches and other logistics.
Giddings and his wife have lived in Haines for the past four years, working as commercial gillnetters. Previous to that, they lived in Adak, where they raised five foster children in addition to their daughter, who is now a freshman in college.
Giddings said his main experience comes from being a father and staying involved with his daughter’s activities. He has also been involved with the inter-church youth group Infinite Life since he moved to Haines.
Interim manager Julie Cozzi said the CYD job’s top three applicants were equally qualified in terms of working with youth and facilitating programs, but she chose Giddings because he could start immediately.
“If money was no object and the program was large, I would love to have hired all three of them. Since I could only hire one, I made the decision to go with the one who could start right away and also be available throughout the year,” Cozzi said.
Giddings is encouraging anyone with ideas for activities or events to contact him at 314-0641.
“The sky is the limit as far as what can be done. I’m looking for suggestions. I don’t think there is any suggestion that is too far out there that we can’t at least entertain it,” he said.