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The Main Youth Center

April Hall of Fame: Marquis Aungie Jr.

Although we at the Cheyenne River Youth Project are immensely proud of our teen internship program and our burgeoning arts initiatives, we’ll never forget our roots. CRYP got its start nearly 30 years ago in a little youth center for 4- to 12-year-olds, and to this day, we are well aware that our impact on the Cheyenne River Lakota Nation’s youth begins here—and that “the little Main” makes a real and lasting difference in our kids’ lives.

Marquis Aungie Jr., 12, started coming to The Main about four years ago. He says his friends told him about the drop-in youth center, which offers nutritious meals and snacks, wellness activities, arts and crafts, a variety of clubs, and simply a safe place to play, study and spend time with friends.

“It sounded cool,” says the sixth-grader, who is in his last year at Cheyenne-Eagle Butte Upper Elementary School.

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Marquis recently learned how to grow his own food through The Main’s Garden Club, and how to make healthy smoothies. Now, however, he’s looking forward. The next year will bring middle school and, as soon as he turns 13, admittance to Cokata Wiconi.

He says he can’t wait. The big draw? Cokata Wiconi’s full-size Morgan Yellowhead Gymnasium.

“I love basketball,” he says. “I want to be an NBA player one day, and I want to go to Chicago.”

Marquis, we have loved having you at The Main for so many years, and we can’t wait to welcome you to Cokata Wiconi. A whole new adventure is waiting for you.

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CRYP Launches 2017 Bike Club at The Main

For nearly three decades, the Cheyenne River Youth Project® has been dedicated to fostering wellness among the Cheyenne River Lakota reservation’s young people. And to Executive Director Julie Garreau and her staff, that means more than simply providing meals, snacks and safe spaces to learn and play—it means teaching children how to make healthier choices in every aspect of their lives.

To that end, the nonprofit youth organization is kicking off its annual Bike Club for the 4- to 12-year-olds who attend youth programming at The Main, CRYP’s youth center. The club officially starts meeting today, Apr. 24, and will meet every Monday and Thursday throughout the spring, summer and early fall months.

CRYP will provide bikes, helmets and pads for all participants. Its teen wellness interns will serve as the bike club’s instructors, teaching the younger children how to prep their bikes and educating them about bike safety.

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CRYP Schedules Community Activities to Celebrate Earth Day

For the team at the Cheyenne River Youth Project®, a strong connection to the earth means a strong connection to traditional Lakota life ways, a critical component to holistic wellness and healing. That’s why Earth Day is a significant date on the CRYP calendar, and the nonprofit youth project is already gearing up for a weekend of special activities.

On Saturday, April 22, CRYP will host an eight-team, double-elimination basketball tournament for grades 6-8 in the Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center’s full-size gymnasium. The tournament is a CRYP fundraiser, so all proceeds from the $10 entry fee will support youth programming and services; each team can have up to 10 players and must wear like-colored shirts or jerseys to participate in the competition, with medals and prizes for first through third place.

The tournament will incorporate half-time spectator challenges and raffle tickets for a 50/50 drawing. Doors open at 8:30 a.m., and the tournament will begin promptly at 9 a.m.

Also that day, CRYP will lead a series of special Earth Day activities. Starting at 8:30 a.m., CRYP will lead a “March for Science,” which focuses on the effects of global warming. Staff members also will lead a trash pick-up effort in the community, followed by a grill party outside The Main youth center on East Lincoln Street. These events are open free to the public, and guests of all ages will be able to participate in a variety of outdoor fitness and sports challenges.

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Sponsor a Birthday Celebration at The Main

In recent years, the Cheyenne River Youth Project® has garnered significant attention for innovative new initiatives like the RedCan graffiti jam, the Waniyetu Wowapi (Winter Count) Lakota Arts Institute, and the teen internship program. Yet the nonprofit organization’s perhaps most significant efforts actually take place in the littlest building on campus — The Main youth center.

Since 1988, The Main has been a positive, safe place for 4- to 12-year-olds to enjoy healthy meals and snacks, do their homework and play with friends. Over the years, programming has expanded to allow them to explore their creativity through arts and crafts; learn more about nutrition, fitness and other forms of wellness; and strengthen their connection to the earth and to their own Lakota life ways through the Winyan Toka Win (Leading Lady) garden.

“The Main provides our first opportunity to reach Cheyenne River’s young people,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “It gives us a chance to demonstrate to our kids that they can trust us to be there for them when they need us, and to give them what they need. We deeply care about our little Main, because our roots lie in that building. It’s how we started nearly three decades ago, and thanks to what we’ve done there, we’re now serving our second generation of children.”

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CRYP Hosts Cooking Classes for Kids of All Ages

This month, the Cheyenne River Youth Project® has invited children of all ages to participate in cooking classes at the nonprofit organization’s Eagle Butte campus. The younger children from The Main youth center were able to participate last Friday, March 10, while the teens have their night scheduled for this Wednesday, March 15.

Last Friday, the 4- to 12-year-olds who participate in activities at The Main were able to create their own homemade pizzas. The older children helped make the pizza dough while the younger ones participated in a “wellness hour,” then all the children finished the pizzas with their favorite ingredients and enjoyed a daily activity while the pies were in the oven. The older children served the pizza and called tables for everyone to be seated.

This Wednesday, youth programs assistants Wendell Nezzie and Danny Grassrope will host the teen cooking class at the Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center. The event will take place from 4 to 5:30 p.m., and it’s open free to any area teens who wish to attend.

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    CRYP Teaches Children to Grow Their Own Food Through Garden Club

CRYP Teaches Children to Grow Their Own Food Through Garden Club

Winter doesn’t stop the Cheyenne River Youth Project®. Although the growing season is still many weeks away, the nonprofit youth organization is already engaging children with the concepts of sustainable agriculture and food sovereignty—even the youngest children.

Last month, CRYP kicked off a new session of its Garden Club, inviting 4- to 12-year-olds who attend The Main youth center to learn more about gardening and healthy eating. From 4 to 4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays through April 1, these children will work on creating their own herb gardens, with classes scheduled both in The Main’s kitchen and in the Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center’s classroom.

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    CRYP Will Host Annual Youth and Teen Christmas Parties on Dec. 5-6

CRYP Will Host Annual Youth and Teen Christmas Parties on Dec. 5-6

Next week, the Cheyenne River Youth Project will host its annual Christmas parties at The Main youth center and the Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center in Eagle Butte, South Dakota. Children ages 4 to 12 are welcome to attend festivities at The Main on Monday, Dec. 5, and teens ages 13-18 are invited to the Cokata Wiconi bash on Tuesday, Dec. 6.

CRYP staff chose the theme “The Night Before Christmas” for the children’s party, which runs from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 5. Guests will enjoy a dinner of chicken noodle soup with cake for dessert, a variety of games and activities, a coloring contest, and seasonal treats such as candy bags, hot chocolate with marshmallows, Grinch punch and holiday “puppy chow.”

The next night, teens will converge on Cokata Wiconi for their party, which is scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. In addition to featuring a movie and dinner, this sports-themed extravaganza will include a basketball three-on-three tournament and three-point content, a ping pong tournament, and a foosball tournament.

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    CRYP is a Finalist for ArtPlace America’s National Creative Placemaking Fund

CRYP is a Finalist for ArtPlace America’s National Creative Placemaking Fund

The Cheyenne River Youth Project® has announced that it is a finalist for ArtPlace America’s National Creative Placemaking Fund. The nonprofit, grassroots youth organization is one of just 80 projects to be selected from a pool of nearly 1,400 applications.

ArtPlace focuses its work on creative placemaking—projects in which art plays an intention and integrated role in place-based community planning and development. According to Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director, this focus aligns well with the youth project’s own mission on South Dakota’s remote, 2.8-million-acre Cheyenne River Lakota reservation.

“We have always believed strongly in a holistic approach to individual wellness and community development,” Garreau explained. “We also know that solutions to local challenges must be rooted in the local community. They must be culturally appropriate and relevant, and they must take into account that community’s unique challenges and opportunities.”

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    CRYP Hosts “Cooking with Commodities,” Prepares to Launch Spring Bike Club

CRYP Hosts “Cooking with Commodities,” Prepares to Launch Spring Bike Club

In keeping with its ongoing commitment to holistic youth wellness, the Cheyenne River Youth Project® is developing engaging new programming that it hopes will inspire young people on the remote Cheyenne River Lakota reservation to live healthier, more vibrant lives. Teens recently took part in an ambitious “Cooking with Commodities” class at the Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center, and preparations are under way for the Spring Bike Club at The Main youth center.

“Our children aren’t going to be able to make better choices when it comes to their nutrition and physical activity if we don’t show them how,” said Tammy Eagle Hunter, CRYP’s executive director. “We need to demonstrate how to make those choices, and how to incorporate good decision-making into daily life.”

Through “Cooking with Commodities,” teen chefs learned how to create a healthy meal with the commodity foods Cheyenne River families typically receive. The class took place on Wednesday, March 23, in CRYP’s Keya (Turtle) Cafe.

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Spring “Book2Movie” Club Starts April 5

On Tuesday, April 5, the Cheyenne River Youth Project® will kick off its seven-week Spring Book2Movie Club at the Cokata Wiconi (“Center of Life”) teen center and The Main youth center. Club members will meet in the Cokata Wiconi and Main libraries every Tuesday and Thursday in April, May and June.

Participants ages 13-18 will read three novels from a selection of banned books that were made into movies, while children ages 4-12 will read two popular children’s books that also became films (staff members will help the youngest children). Each book will conclude with a special finale celebration.

On deck for the teens: Sherman Alexie’s “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” Stephen Chbosky’s “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple,” and Roald Dahl’s “The BFG.” At The Main, younger children will enjoy Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” as staff members read the books aloud.

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