CRYP Needs Dresses and Acessories to Help Make the 2012 Prom a Night to Remember!

For American teenagers, there is perhaps no greater rite of passage than the prom. With its corsages and boutonnieres, elegant gowns and dashing tuxedos, the prom marks a teen’s formal entrance into adulthood. And for one magical night, that adult world shines with such hope and promise.

At least, it should.

But on the 2.8-million-acre Cheyenne River reservation on South Dakota’s remote high prairie, too many teens don’t have the financial resources to purchase formal wear, jewelry, makeup and other accessories. For them, the prom would lie out of reach — if it weren’t for the Cheyenne River Youth Project® in Eagle Butte.

Although the new year is less than a month old, CRYP is already hard at work making preparations for one of its longest-running and most popular teen programs: Passion for Fashion. This annual one-day event, created in 2001, provides support for teens who need all the prom essentials; it also promotes intergenerational exchange, bonding and positive self-esteem and body image.

This year’s Passion for Fashion will take place on Saturday, March 10 at CRYP’s Cokata Wiconi Teen Center. And for the fourth year in a row, the daylong event will feature a special theme; past years’ themes included “Old Hollywood Glamour,” “Juicy Couture” and “Alice in Wonderland.”

This year’s theme: “Fashion Week!”

“We’re so excited about all the possibilities with this theme,” said Megan Guiliano, CRYP’s youth programs director. “We can really take our girls around the world — from a sidewalk cafe in Paris, to a London hair-and-makeup studio, to a high-fashion New York City catwalk.

“We’re expecting a record number of girls,” she continued. “We went from 44 girls in 2009, to 57 girls in 2010, to more than 80 girls last year. And with the popularity of TV shows like ‘America’s Next Top Model,’ we’re anticipating that even more teens are going to want to experience our take on Fashion Week.”

To that end, CRYP staff and volunteers are undertaking a herculean effort. The Cokata Wiconi Teen Center’s Internet cafe will be transformed into a Parisian cafe, complete with requisite beverages and sweet treats to complement the formal luncheon. There, the girls will listen to a special presentation by a keynote speaker before traveling to London.

London, in a designated area of the Cokata Wiconi gymnasium, will be the hotspot for manicures, pedicures, facials, make-overs and hair-styling. Then, after choosing their prom dresses, shoes and special accessories, the girls will head to the Cokata Wiconi catwalk to debut their new looks in New York City style.

As a special treat this year, two professional photographers are donating their time to take fashion photography during the catwalk sessions. Richard Steinberger of Bailey, Colorado, and Matt Normann of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, will take positions at different points along the catwalk to produce high-fashion images; each girl will get a keepsake photo.

“Whenever you think of Fashion Week in Paris, London, New York or Milan, you think of models parading down the catwalk with strobes flashing and shutters clicking madly,” Guiliano said. “It adds a thrill to the event, and we really want the girls to feel like stars for this one special day.”

The evening will conclude with a special Passion for Fashion cake and fun activities such as karaoke and Guitar Hero tournaments. All participants will receive gift bags and may include their names in drawings for prizes.

All high-school girls on the Cheyenne River reservation will receive personalized invitations; however, Cheyenne River’s junior-high girls may attend as well. CRYP also welcomes teens from the Standing Rock reservation as well as to those from border communities such as Faith, South Dakota.

“Passion for Fashion has become so special to us, largely because multiple generations of Cheyenne River women attend the event,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “We invite a keynote speaker who is a positive role model within the community, and grandmothers, mothers, aunties, sisters and cousins celebrate with the girls as they prepare for prom night. We’ve also been delighted to see how the teens support each other as they address such difficult issues as low self-esteem, poor body image and bullying.

“Passion for Fashion is about more than the frills of prom, although we do have a lot of fun with that,” she continued. “Throughout the daylong event, the girls receive important messages that we hope they’ll retain for the rest of their lives. In the last 10 years, we’ve seen Passion for Fashion prove to be a bonding experience, one that transforms the young women who participate. Inner beauty and confidence emerges, and new friendships develop that actually carry over into their everyday lives at school.”

Cheyenne River’s young women already are eagerly looking forward to this year’s Passion for Fashion program. According to Guiliano, these teens look forward to the event all year; it’s a major day on the high school calendar, and once the holidays are over, thoughts of the prom take hold.

“The prom really is one of a teenager’s most treasured experiences, so we want to make sure that each of these girls is able to enjoy a special night that she will always remember,” she explained. “And with so many girls in need, we’re asking our communities, donors and friends for their support.”

In short, the youth project needs prom dresses and accessories. Lots of them.

“We need new and gently used dresses in sizes four to 26, but we especially need sizes 16 to 26,” Guiliano said. “The same goes for shoes. We need shoes in all sizes, but especially in sizes 9 to 12.”

CRYP also is asking for jewelry and hair accessories; makeup and bath sets; gift cards and cash donations. Staff and volunteers will take any contributed funds and make additional purchases based on need.

To learn how you can support CRYP’s 2012 Passion for Fashion program, see the sidebar to the left.

To learn more about the Cheyenne River Youth Project® and its programs, and for information about making donations and volunteering, call (605) 964-8200 or And, to stay up to date on the latest CRYP news and events, visit the youth project’s Facebook “Cause” page. All Cause members will receive regular updates through Facebook.

The Cheyenne River Youth Project®, founded in 1988, is a grassroots, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing the youth of the Cheyenne River reservation with access to a vibrant and secure future through a wide variety of culturally sensitive and enduring programs, projects and facilities that ensure strong, self-sufficient families and communities.

How You Can Support CRYP’s 2012 Passion for Fashion

If you would like to support the Cheyenne River Youth Project’s Passion for Fashion program this year, please considering contributing any of the following:

• New/Gently Used Prom Dresses (Sizes 4-26, especially sizes 16-26)

• Dress Accessories (Examples: Purses, Wraps, Scarves)

• Formal Shoes (especially sizes 9-12)

• Jewelry

• Hair Accessories & Care Products

• Facial, Manicure & Pedicure Supplies

• Makeup and Bath Sets

• Gift Cards

• Cash Donations

CRYP usually makes a variety of additional purchases for the Passion for Fashion event, including makeup, food and some accessories, so every contribution helps. Please send donations to CRYP at P.O. Box 410, East Lincoln Street, Eagle Butte, SD 57625. To make a financial contribution, either mail to the above address or simply click here to make a donation.

To ensure that CRYP staff and volunteers have time to prepare for the Passion for Fashion event on March 10, please send all packages and contributions by March 3. The youth project also will gladly accept late donations, since many teens who are unable to attend the event itself will pick up their dresses at a later date. Donations for next year are welcome as well! For more information, call (605) 964-8200 or send e-mail to

RSVP for Passion for Fashion!

Teenagers from the Cheyenne River reservation who would like to attend this year’s Passion for Fashion event at the Cokata Wiconi Teen Center on Saturday, March 10 should contact the Cheyenne River Youth Project to let staff know they plan to participate. Please RSVP as soon as possible by calling (605) 964-8200 or sending e-mail to