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The Main Youth Center

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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February is “Heart Health Month” at CRYP

February is “Heart Health Month” at the Cheyenne River Youth Project®, and the 27-year-old, not-for-profit youth organization’s staff has been hard at work organizing youth programming that has a special focus on diabetes prevention. It’s a cause close to staff members’ hearts, as the numbers are truly frightening; diabetes has reached epidemic proportions.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Indian Health Service, American Indians and Alaska Natives are 2.2 times more likely to have diabetes than non-Hispanic whites. Thirty percent of the indigenous population in this country has pre-diabetes, and of those who already have it, 95 percent have type 2 diabetes. What’s even more frightening: There was a 68 percent increase in diabetes from 1994 to 2004 among native youth ages 15 to 19. Half of Cheyenne River’s population is under 18, and 30 to 40 percent of those young people have or are at risk for developing diabetes.

“This is a huge issue for us,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “The children born here since 2000 have a life expectancy that’s shorter than their parents’ or grandparents.’ Many of these kids already have health issues, some as young as 8 to 10 years old.”

While this is a health disaster for native communities, most of the risk factors are socio-cultural and environmental. That means diabetes is preventable.

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    CRYP Prepares for Annual Holiday Parties, Seeks Donors for 400+ “Dear Santa” Letters

CRYP Prepares for Annual Holiday Parties, Seeks Donors for 400+ “Dear Santa” Letters

The Thanksgiving holiday is upon us, which means the Cheyenne River Youth Project® has just one month left to fulfill the Christmas wishes of 1,500 children on South Dakota’s remote, 2.8-million-acre Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. More than 1,000 letters have already been adopted by generous supporters, yet more remains to be done.

“We still have more than 400 ‘Dear Santa’ letters that need to be adopted,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “That means we still need to take care of 400 children who wrote heartfelt letters in the hope that Santa Claus would bring a little extra happiness and magic to their homes this Christmas.

“Supporters who wish to join our Christmas Toy Drive efforts can contact us directly to get their Santa letters,” she continued. “Or, if they would prefer to contribute funds, they can donate via our website. We’re happy to do the shopping on our end to make sure Santa comes to these deserving kids.”

Christmas is a big deal on the CRYP calendar. This year’s toy drive geared up in late summer, and in just a matter of days, it will become an around-the-clock race as Christmas Eve and Christmas Day grow ever nearer. But first, CRYP will host its eagerly anticipated, annual holiday parties for the 4- to 12-year-olds at The Main youth center and the teenagers at the Cokata Wiconi (“Center of Life”) teen center.

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Main University’s Fall Semester Starts This Monday

On Monday, September 28, the Cheyenne River Youth Project® in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, is launching its fall semester of Main University, one of the not-for-profit youth organization’s most popular and enduring programs. Recipient of a “Champion for Children” award from the South Dakota Coalition for Children, Main University is designed for 4- to 12-year-olds who attend The Main youth center; it was founded by former long-term volunteer Tracie Farrell in 2002.

Main University allows participants to take short courses that mimic those offered in a college setting, giving Cheyenne River children a chance to study subjects that may not be offered in school. This fall, the CRYP staff has created lesson plans for four hourlong courses: Baking, Collage, Beadwork, and Stenciling & Painting.

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