Monthly Archives: June 2011

Second Annual Wellstone Action Training Conference for Local Teens

Earlier this month, the Cheyenne River Youth Project® in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, hosted its second annual “Native Youth Organizing Training” conference through Wellstone Action’s Native American Leadership Program. Thirty-one local teens between the ages of 14 to 19 attended the daylong leadership training event. Held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, June 9 and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, June 10, the conference began with an icebreaker: The teens had to learn how to build a community among themselves, through the simple and often humorous task of posting sticky notes with compliments on each other’s backs.

“The activity really opened things up with a positive vibe,” reported Elizabeth “Lily” Kroll, who helped organize the event, along with fellow long-term volunteers Saskia Klocke and Holly Ramsay. “It made everyone feel very welcome.” Led by Wellstone Action Program Director Peggy Flanagan and trainers Kevin Killer, Maya Torralba and George Goggleye (Wahwahtay Benais), the conference curriculum encompassed a variety of topics, including community, Lakota values and “Help Wanted: Finding the Leaders We Need in Our Communities.” “The Wellstone trainers made themselves available to the kids, and the atmosphere was so relaxed,” Kroll said. “As the trainers opened up to the participants, the participants were able to do the same. And they served as positive native role models, which is so important.”

To address the issue of community, the Wellstone participants divided into groups and discussed of what they were most and least proud when they thought of Cheyenne River. The teens said they were most proud of the way the community pulled together after the 2010 tornadoes, graduating from high school, school spirit, involvement of students in community activities, the Cokata Wiconi Teen Center, being native and efforts to preserve Lakota culture and language. The teens said they were not proud of domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse, gang violence, graffiti, teens getting into trouble, lack of family involvement, the condition of the football and baseball fields, the prevalence of homeless people within the community, lack of jobs and opportunities, a dysfunctional school system, drunk driving accidents and lack of respect for their way of life. “I really saw how much these kids are invested in their community and how much they really care about its well-being,” Kroll said. “They’re very passionate about changing things, and it’s wonderful to see that kind of drive in such young people. They’re aware of what needs to happen in the community, and they’re thinking long-term — for future generations, for their own kids.”

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Power of Four Teen Internship Program Kicks Off at CRYP

Nearly four years ago, Tribal Ventures and the Cheyenne River Youth Project® in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, joined forces to create a special teen internship program for the Cheyenne River reservation. This month, the Power of Four program kicked into high gear with five new teen interns as well as five prospects who are nearing the end of the application process.

The Power of Four’s focus is to build a 10-member youth advisory board that will represent local young people among CRYP’s board of directors. These interns will receive the necessary training and support to learn how to represent their peers and to serve as advocates for their needs and the needs of others in productive, meaningful ways. The council will continue in perpetuity, long after the official three-year internship program has ended. On Wednesday, June 22, CRYP and Power of Four hosted a special meeting for the five students they’ve already accepted into this year’s internship program. The teens have completed their commitment contracts and W-9 forms, and to the delight of staff, two also opted to attend the recent Wellstone Action leadership training conference at CRYP. “They really participated, and they were so open,” enthused Billie Condon, the youth mentor responsible for implementing the Power of Four program on the reservation. “And we were so happy to see that the kids wanted to bring their parents to the Power of Four meeting.”

These five teen interns will hold key positions with CRYP, three of which include wellness assistant, assistant facilities manager and front office/administrative assistant. But they won’t just be working; they’ll also take financial literacy and CPR training, attend career counseling and job fairs, and undertake Youth Leaders in Service courses to earn specific certifications. “The Power of Four program is part of a larger initiative for us,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “We want to identify kids who have a real desire to make a difference. Then we want to encourage them — to improve their communication skills, to advance their education and to steer their own destinies. We also want to engage them at the local level, because once you learn how to take definitive action in your own community, the sky’s the limit.”

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Second Annual “Family Day” Festivities on Saturday, June 25

This Saturday, June 25, the Cheyenne River Youth Project® in Eagle Butte will host its second annual Family Day festival at its East Lincoln Street Campus. The event will be held from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the grounds and in the Cokata Wiconi Teen Center gymnasium, and it will be open free to the public.

Family Day will incorporate a wide variety of activities for all ages, including potato-sack races, bobbing for apples, water-balloon tosses, tug-of-war, potato dancing, bean-bag tosses and a hula-hoop competition. CRYP will be offering prizes tot he winners; in addition, all registered participants will receive a raffle ticket for the event’s big raffle drawing.

“We had a great turnout for our first Family Day last June, so we’ve really been looking forward to this year’s event,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “One of our former long-term volunteers, Petra, actually came up with the idea; she thought it would be a way for the members of our community to feel more connected to our youth organization. “It’s really important to us that all the moms, dads, grandparents, older siblings and other family members feel that CRYP belongs to them as well as to their young or teenage children,” she continued. “We welcome everyone to come see us on the 25th, to take tours of Cokata Wiconi and The Main, to ask questions, to make suggestions and to really feel engaged with the work we’ve been doing on Cheyenne River for nearly 23 years.”

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CRYP to Offer Expanded Summer Wellness Programming

Summer programming is well underway at the Cheyenne River Youth Project® in Eagle Butte, South Dakota. By the first week of June, the grassroots, not-for-profit youth organization has already hosted a “School’s Out!” DJ Dance for teens, the season opener for its 2011 Midnight Basketball and Junior Midnight Basketball programs and the first of two basketball camps. But it’s not too late to get in on the action. Still to come: another basketball camp, a volleyball clinic, “T-Ball Week” and a variety of additional events and activities for Cheyenne River’s young people.

“We’re encouraging more than participation in sports with these programs,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “Because we approach ‘wellness’ from a holistic perspective, we want even the youngest children to embrace different types of physical activity, the importance of teamwork and the grace of good sportsmanship. The choices they make today will have a lifelong impact in terms of confidence, relationships, health and overall well-being.” The second Basketball Camp will be held June 13-16 it the Cokata Wiconi Teen Center gymnasium. Like the first camp, it will be divided into age groups; ages 8-12 may participate at 2-4 p.m., while ages 13-18 may participate at 5-8 p.m. Participants can expect to participate in drills and conditioning exercises as well as learn basketball skills and important basic fundamentals. They’’ll also play scrimmage games, concluding with tournament on the camp’s final day.

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CRYP Hosts First Midnight Basketball and Summer Basketball Camp of the 2011 Season

More than 50 teens attended Midnight Basketball’s June 2 season opener at the Cheyenne River Youth Project® in Eagle Butte, South Dakota. The teens-only event started at 9 p.m. and concluded at 1 a.m. According to Tammy Granados, CRYP’s wellness coordinator, attendance at the season kickoff was even better than expected. “The number of kids at each Friday’s event typically grows throughout the season,” she said. “The word spreads, week by week, as each participant tells his or her friends about the fun we had and reminds them to come next time.”

Midnight Basketball

At the 2011 season opener, four teams staged a 5-on-5 tournament and competed for the first Midnight Basketball title of the summer. The remaining teens shot on side goals or watched as spectators. “We’re going to continue to hold tournaments, challenges and other special activities,” Granados said. “We like to keep energy levels up, so each year we try to add something new to the program. We’re so appreciative of our staff members and both long-term and community volunteers, who make programs like Midnight Basketball possible.”

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