Since our inception in 1990, one of Diabetes Action’s highest priorities has been to support health improvement for the American Indian population that has been so severely impacted by the diabetes epidemic.
Our partnership with the Cheyenne River Youth Project (CRYP) is helping to make it possible to change the outlook for people living on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. At one of the schools on this reservation EVERY single student is needy enough to qualify for the free lunch program. Now, the children living among some of the worst poverty in the country can attend two of the CYRP Youth Centers to obtain healthy snacks and participate in year round activity and exercise programs and also receive extra school help.
The Winyan Toka Win (or Leading Lady) Garden has been one of the most successful parts of the CYRP goal to eliminate diabetes on their reservation. In addition to growing and harvesting healthy vegetables from the garden, the program also educates the community about how to grow their own respective gardens. Classes in Poultry Raising, Garden Building, and Farmer’s Market are also offered.
One of the teenagers who attended the 2015 Sustainable Agriculture Internship commented how he “learned more about healthy eating choices and genetically modified foods and the effect they have on their health and bodies”. More importantly, he noted how he was able to share what he learned with his mother and encouraged her to buy foods that were better for his family. In addition, he learned how to prepare many of the foods, such as Swiss chard, zucchini, and squash that he helped grow so that he could introduce these foods to his family.
Working closely with a Diabetes Educator and the sustainable agriculture department, the Cheyenne River Youth Project and Diabetes Action hope to teach the children the importance of exercise and nutrition, as well as connecting wellness to all aspects of life to provide a healthier future for all residents on the Reservation.