Native News Network Staff in Native Currents. Discussion »
EAGLE BUTTE, SOUTH DAKOTA The Cheyenne River Youth Project has concluded its first-ever teen internship program focused on youth wellness and the two acre Winyan Toka Win "Leading Lady" garden.
This summer, 11 Cheyenne River teenagers each provided 60 hours of service at the youth project's East Lincoln Street campus.
Earning $500 stipends in the process were Theola and Teesha Schad, Sierra Jewett, Justin Cook-Twite, Sage Good Shield, Rhyley Dillabaugh, Kathleen Smith, Meta Charger, Rachel Emery, Khalid Garreau and Miles Livermont. Diabetes Action Research (DARE) funded the teen internship program.
“We were so excited to have our first wellness interns, and they did a great job this summer,”
said Tammy Eagle Hunter, CRYP's youth programs director.
"Not only did they learn the basics of gardening, processing and canning, they also received their CPR and food handler's certifications and attended special training sessions in financial literacy, suicide prevention, drug and alcohol prevention, nutrition, and diabetes prevention."
“They also put in a lot of wellness and exercise time so they would form new, healthy habits,”
“Their hard work and dedication was so inspiring.”
Several of the teens noted the importance of learning CPR and proper food handling techniques. They all commented on the role a garden can play in families and communities.
“Now I know what the different varieties of fruits and vegetables look like, and how to harvest (them),”
Khalid Garreau remarked in his exit essay.
“Gardens are important to people on the reservation because the fruits and vegetables are good for you, you can grow whatever you want, and you can sell what you harvest.”
Garreau also said he was grateful for the diabetes prevention training, commenting that he was going to continue to eat right and exercise and encourage his family to do the same.
Miles Livermont said the program taught him to have higher standards for himself and to do a better job of taking care of his body. In fact, he said everything he learned about diabetes nearly prompted him to go vegan. He didn't, but other life changes are afoot.
“I'm going to start finding ways to get vegetables more, and eat less sugar, salt and fats,”
Fellow intern Theola Schad agreed.
“Now that I've learned more about diabetes, I'll start trying to eat right and exercise to keep myself in shape,”
she wrote in her essay.
She also noted that a naturally grown, pesticide-free garden would be important to her family, because the produce would help keep everyone healthy, and tending the garden would teach respect and responsibility.
“I've learned that working in a garden can help a community get healthier,”
“I've learned that if you get involved in drugs and alcohol, your life will slowly go downhill. (And) I learned that if you cut a lot of onions, your eyes will be used to it and won't burn as much!”
Julie Garreau, Cheyenne River Youth Project executive director, said she hoped to see the internship program return in summer 2014.
“We're really looking forward to getting our teens even more involved in the garden and in our youth wellness programming,”
“Not only will they develop a strong work ethic and take on a valuable leadership role at the Cokata Wiconi teen center, they'll learn so much about respecting the land, the water, the foods we're growing, how to keep their own bodies healthy, and how to encourage their family and friends to live healthier lives as well.”
Schad, for one, is enthusiastic about the program continuing in summer 2014.
“It taught me a lot about patience and responsibility,”
“It taught me that to keep myself healthy is a big thing.”
She also observed that the CPR training helped keep her focused on her career goals; Schad wants to pursue a college degree in criminal justice.
“I want to be a detective (or) forensic scientist,”
“Plus, CPR can help in saving a life.”
Livermont is taking an even longer view when he considers the Winyan Toka Win garden and the role gardens can play on Cheyenne River.
“Gardens are important to the reservation because they keep us closer to old customs and a more natural way of life,”
he said simply.
posted August 26, 2013 11:50 am edt