Legacy and Leadership Awards were created to recognize and celebrate acts of community leadership in honor of our founder Charles Blandin’s 75-year legacy of leadership.
Legacy and Leadership Award recipient Chad Evans was nominated by Myrna Peterson for the work he has done with the Boys and Girls Club and the Movement/STEP Coalition of Deer River.
Chad’s leadership is focused on creating a culture of hope and positivity through the rearranging of community norms. Work done with the STEP Coalition and The Boys and Girls Club is not just a typical program so much as an attempt to shift general thinking in a more positive direction.
“What we are trying to eliminate is the belief that kids will be kids and they will make unhealthy choices. This attitude labels the issue as something we just have to deal with,” said Evans. “What we would like to see instead is a more positive social norm—one which says MOST kids make HEALTHY choices and want to continue to make healthy choices—and we want to foster an environment which better responds to affirmative thinking like that.”
Evans points to data that supports the work he and the community have been doing. In 2012, 73 percent of Deer River students were not using drugs or alcohol in a given month. In 2015, the percentage of students not using had swelled to 87 percent. That’s a huge improvement in only a few years.
“We don’t want to re-create the wheel when there are fantastic programs in existence already, “said Evans. “We just care about giving all of the right opportunities to the kids.”
Recognizing the extreme importance of support and collaboration between groups with the same goals, Evans has worked with 4H, The SEARCH Institute, Maven Perspectives, Indian Education, Warrior Way Guidance Team, University of MN Extension, The LINK Crew, Itasca County Probation, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Bridges Kinship Mentoring and more.
In his leadership of Deer River area youth, Chad Evans is encouraging creative problem solving and coping skills to support character growth. His passion is helping kids use their personal strengths to make our community a better place, and his impact is apparent. He recognizes the importance of making the phrase “Kids these days” something positive to say, instead of something to shake fingers at.
Peterson best sums up the reason he is so deserving of a Legacy and Leadership Award: “His electric, endless energy and passion is so evident by the growth his pupils have seen over recent years. Chad is definitely an organizer and a leader worthy of recognition.”