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    CRYP Receives $24K Grant from Child Fund International, Prepares to Launch “Just Read!” Project

CRYP Receives $24K Grant from Child Fund International, Prepares to Launch “Just Read!” Project

The Cheyenne River Youth Project® announced today that it has received a $24,000 grant from the Richmond, Virginia-based Child Fund International. These funds will allow the nearly 27-year-old, not-for-profit youth organization to develop and carry out the yearlong “Just Read!” project, a series of youth reading initiatives on South Dakota’s remote, 2.8-million-acre Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.

According to CRYP staff, “Just Read!” is a critical project for Cheyenne River’s children, who are among the poorest and most marginalized in the country. They have little access to books at home or through public libraries, and they lack opportunities to read outside of school. Far too many cannot read at grade level.

“Many parents here lack awareness of the importance of reading to children,” said Tammy Eagle Hunter, CRYP’s youth programs director. “They also lack confidence, particularly those who have low literacy skills or who are English-language learners themselves, which results in poor educational performance among their children early on and, eventually, a disproportionate drop-out rate.”

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Winter Book Club Kicks Off on Thursday, February 5

On Thursday, February 5, the Cheyenne River Youth Project® will kick off its annual Winter Book Club in the Cokata Wiconi (“Center of Life”) teen center’s library. Youth Programs Director Tammy Eagle Hunter and Youth Programs Assistant Floyd Braun will lead club sessions through late March, also offering three milestone celebrations and a special spring field trip to Harney Peak in the Black Hills.

For the first time, participants will have two Winter Book Club programs from which to choose. In the “Education & Culture” program, the teens will read My Indian Boyhood by Luther Standing Bear. The book will be broken into chapter groupings, and at the end of each grouping, participants will write a single-page, three-paragraph essay.

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Ride for Reading Event Donates Hundreds of Books to CRYP Youth

RideforReading  rideforreading2

The Cheyenne River Youth Project received hundreds of donated books from the Ride For Reading event held on, Saturday, May 10th. About half a dozen bicyclists rode nearly 10 miles from Sturgis to Bear Butte, South Dakota carrying books in their backpacks and bike baskets to donate to CRYP’s library, which has become a center for book clubs and reading among community youth.

Ride for Reading is a Nashville, Tennessee-based non-profit organization dedicated to promoting books and healthy lifestyles to low income children. The event was organized in collaboration with Lily Mendoza y Ducheneaux, who is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and owner of the Rapid City bookstore, Word Carrier Trading Post.  Ms. Mendoza y Ducheneaux is also a member of CRYP’s advisory board.

In total, CRYP received nearly 600 books on nearly every subject for its libraries, which are still in the process of building their inventories to include books and materials for children and teens. Promoting reading and the love of books is one of CRYP’s key goals as a youth-centered organization.

“The books will be much appreciated by the children of Cheyenne River and will be put to good use here at CRYP,” says Tammy Eagle Hunter, youth programs coordinator for CRYP. “These books will help us strengthen activities such as Book Club and reading time at ‘The Main.’ We are thankful to all of the local cyclists who carried books from Sturgis to Bear Butte. All those in attendance that day remarked on how much they enjoyed the event – especially the children.”

CRYP staffers Pamela Stolz and Ryan Devlin accompanied kids from CRYP to the event in Bear Butte, where they enjoyed hiking and lunch along with the cyclists who rode in for the event.

“The kids loved the hike so much we had to do it twice!” says Stolz, who is the organization’s VISTA volunteer. “And the kids poured over the books as the cyclists handed them off. Six-year-old Xayden especially enjoyed the 3D book about sharks, while his older brother, Xavien, grabbed one of the Captain Underpants books to read on the ride home. At the end of the day, as we hiked down Bear Butte, Caseylynn stopped in her tracks looked up at me and said, ‘this is the best day ever!’”

Founded in 1988, the Cheyenne River Youth Project is dedicated to providing the youth of the Cheyenne River reservation with access to a vibrant and secure future through a variety of culturally sensitive and enduring programs, projects and facilities, ensuring strong, self-sufficient families and communities. Today, CRYP provides a wide variety of programs and services to the community, covering nearly 3 million acres in South Dakota.

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The Cheyenne River Youth Project Launches Wowapi Book Club for Teens

The Cheyenne River Youth Project announced the launch of the Olakholkichiyapi Wowapi Book Club in April for its teen members, which will be held every Wednesday and Thursday evening from April through July 2014. The meetings will be held from 6-7 p.m. in the library in the Cokata Wiconi Teen Center.

“Books allow kids to step outside their world and become pirates, astronauts, writers and thinkers,” says Julie Garreau, CRYP executive director. “Books also enables them to travel and dream about the possibilities of what they may become or where they may want to go in life. CRYP is about presenting options and opportunities and our book club is the perfect place for our kids to explore the world through these books.”

Valerie Collins, the group’s coordinator, was an avid reader growing up in the Cheyenne River community and says the name Wowapi means “book,” in the Lakota language. She hopes to inspire and engage the club members not only to read, but to embrace the discussion and comraderie that comes with sharing their thoughts on books.

“Our motto is ‘What happens in book club, stays in book club,’” says Collins. “Not only are we reading some intense titles, but at the meeting I am hoping that the group can bond on a different level. I want this to be a special place that the kids can call their second home, a place where they trust everyone and feel comfortable with each other.”

Collins says that at the end of each month, Wowapi members will read a different book, followed by a pizza and movie party based off the material they read that month. The selections for the next five months are as follows.

April: The Business of Fancydancing, by Spokane author Sherman Alexie. This is his first official novel compiled of over 40 short stories and poems about the honest truth of what living as an Indian in today’s world means: The happiness, the heartache, the fun, the sadness, the family, the land and everything in between. At the end of the month we will watch “Dance Me Outside.”

May: The Fault in Our Stars, by John Greene. This title follows the main character of Hazel Grace, who is dying of cancer. While she has accepted her fate, she does whatever her parents ask of her because she knows that “the only thing worse that a 16-year-old who dies from cancer is the parents who loses their 16 year old to cancer.”  We watch her journey from a settled acceptance of despair to a renewed sense of hope and love in family and friends.  The movie for this book will be very special. We will be taking a trip to Pierre, S.D., to see the film adaptation of this novel, which will be released on June 6th this summer.

June: Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines by Nic Sheff. This title is probably our most mature-themed novel, even though it is classified as a young adult novel. It chronicles the life of Nic Sheff from a “good boy,” a promising young writer, family-oriented guy… to a boy living off the streets, prostituting himself, robbing, all just to get a five minute high on meth. He eventually turns it all around, after many attempts at rehab. Two years into sobriety he writes this novel. He isn’t preachy, he isn’t self serving. He just tells his tale.Our current epidemic of meth use on our reservation was the compelling factor in choosing this title. We wanted to show there is hope, there can be change, and it starts within yourself. The movie pick for this title is a documentary narrated by Val Kilmer entitled “American Meth.” It follows a close-knit family who is ripped apart by this drug, and how they endure while their loved ones find the path to wellness again.

July’s selection will be a surprise for members, says Collins, with a contest to guess the book among members.

Additionally, an email account will be necessary for all members to facilitate communication in the event a meeting is cancelled. Staff will help those who do not have an email account to obtain one at the teen center.

Finally, Book Club members who come to 90 percent of the meetings, finish their worksheets and finish their books by August 1st will receive either a Tablet or Kindle Fire. There are 10 slots to fill, so hurry and sign up! One more note: Because some of the titles are mature content, parental permission must be granted. On our first meeting, set for Thursday April 10th, permission slips will be passed out and as soon as they are brought back in, the teens will receive their first book.

For more info, parents, guardians and teens can contact Valerie Collins at 605-964-8200 to answer any questions they may have or they are welcome to stop in and visit with a staff member about the club, or follow us at https://www.facebook.com/lakotayouth and www.twitter.com/lakotayouth for updates and details.

Founded in 1988, the Cheyenne River Youth Project is dedicated to providing the youth of the Cheyenne River reservation with access to a vibrant and secure future through a variety of culturally sensitive and enduring programs, projects and facilities, ensuring strong, self-sufficient families and communities. Today, CRYP provides a wide variety of programs and services to the community, covering nearly 3 million acres in  South Dakota. To learn more about CRYP, visit www.lakotayouth.org.

 

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