ANCHORAGE (AP) -- An innovative residential school for troubled Alaska Native teens and others with behavioral or substance abuse problems was dedicated this week.
The $7 million Pathway Home aims to put teenagers between the ages of 14 and 17 with alcohol, drug and behavioral problems in a safe place that connects them with their culture.
''This is the best kind of investment we can make in young people,'' said U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens during a ceremony Wednesday.
One of the home's unique features is its weaving of Alaska Native culture into the program, said Katherine Gottlieb, president of Southcentral Foundation. The foundation is the health arm of the Cook Inlet Region Inc.
The foundation has worked on making the 36-bed facility a reality for four years, Gottlieb said. If young people leave the center free of substance abuse or behavioral problems and go on to college or good careers, it will be a success, she said.
The home has accepted 12 Alaska Natives since it opened in October and is expected to have 20 by the end of the year, Gottlieb said. It also accepts teens of all races.
Youths receive counseling and academic and vocational education during their stay. which can be for up to 18 months. An education wing includes a computer lab, wood shop, welding shop and an exercise room, all sparkling new.
The staff of about 40 includes counselors and teachers of culinary arts, welding, small engine repair and computer technology.
Funded from federal, state and private sources, it is free for the young people who stay there.
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