Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
PORTLAND - A new television Public Service Announcement (PSA) produced by the Center for Native American Youth premiered at the 68th National Congress of American Indian's Annual Conference in Portland, Oregon on Wednesday. On hand to introduce it to delegates was Dirk Whitebreast, Sac & Fox.
Whitebreast recently completed running ten marathons within 30 days to bring attention to the high rate of suicides among Native youth. The suicide rate among Native youth is three times the national average; and, in some cases, as high as ten times the national average when clustered in time and place.
Whitebreast, who lost his sister to suicide eight years ago, donated all proceeds he raised during the time he ran the marathons to the Center for Native American Youth, based at the Aspen Institute in Washington.
The Public Service Announcement premiered in front of hundreds of tribal leaders attending the conference. The Center's founder, former US Senator Dorgan - North Dakota, and two members from the Center's board of advisors - Jefferson Keel, president of the National Congress of American Indians and Jacoby Ellsbury, centerfielder for the Boston Red Sox - are featured in the PSA.
Whitebreast was recently added to the Center's board of advisors.
They came together to raise awareness to the efforts being made by the Center and share a message of hope to youth in Indian Country.
"I am proud of the PSA and pleased it premiered at the National Congress of American Indian's conference; a conference attended by hundreds of admirable tribal leaders working passionately to improve the lives of Native youth each and every day. We are determined to work alongside tribal leaders to raise awareness to the challenges facing Indian children," said former US Senator Byron Dorgan, founder of the Center.
In addition to the thirty-second television PSA, the Center produced two radio PSAs. The Center will work to broadcast the PSA in cities and towns with large Native American populations across the US.
Native American youth face some of the most tragic disparities of any population in the United States. However, often times these issues are not well understood by the general public. High rates of poverty and unemployment, health disparities, alcohol and substance abuse, and increased youth gang activity can be found in many of the Native communities across the nation.
Building Better Opportunities
"We need to raise awareness of these issues. More attention and more resources are needed to address these challenges and improve the lives of Native youth. The PSA helps us share the message that everyone should get involved in the effort to make a positive impact on the lives of the most at-risk population in the US - Native American youth," stated Erin Bailey, director of the Center.
In addition to raising awareness to these challenges facing young Native people, the Center is also determined to highlight successful initiatives taking place in Indian Country, as well as support and provide positive reinforcement for youth who are over coming barriers and making a difference in their communities.
Public Service Announcement Television Script
Byron Dorgan: I do not know what is second or third place in most people's lives, but I know what's in first our children.
Jefferson Keel: Native American youth are the most at-risk population in this country.
Byron Dorgan: And that's why I created the Center for Native American Youth.
Jacoby Ellsbury: We are working with tribes and families to improve the lives of Native American children and most of all promote hope.
Jefferson Keel: We focus on preventing teen suicide and shining a light on the challenges Native youth face.
Senator Dorgan: Please help us build better opportunities for Native American children.
posted November 3, 2011 7:00 am edt
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