News Archive - The Notah Begay III Foundation

Community Partner Highlight: APIA creates traditional foods head start curriculum

Octopus, Seal Garnish Alaska Native Head Start Nutrition Lesson Plan

Nonprofit creates preschool nutrition curriculum reclaiming and revitalizing Unangan
and Unangas culture through education in efforts to achieve healthier outcomes for their children.

ST. GEORGE ISLAND, Alaska _ On this small island about 300 miles southwest from the shore of mainland Alaska, an abundance of birds, crabs, reindeer, halibut, sea lion and wild plants in the past provided nutritious, hearty meals for the Aleut or Unangan people living here.

Though some of the 13 Alaska Native tribes of the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands like the tribe here still rely on subsistence hunting, modern conveniences such as packaged foods have crept into the Unangan and Unangas diets resulting in unhealthy dietary habits. Rates of diabetes have soared over the years and nearly 40 percent of residents in the region are obese.

The Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, Inc.(APIA) Head Start Program is addressing this health concern among families through its new Qaqamii}u{: Head Start Traditional Foods Preschool Curriculum, with lessons focusing on healthy eating and sparking interest in traditional foods.

“I’m hoping that this will bring awareness to our communities about how traditional foods have all the necessary nutrients to keep us sustained, and that tradition and our culture are very, very important. It’s vital to who we are as Aleut people or Unangan people in our region,” said Bonnie Kashevarof Mierzejek, APIA Head Start program director, who grew up on St. George eating off the island. APIA is an Anchorage-based nonprofit that assists in meeting the health and safety of the Unangan and Unangas in the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands Region.

The remote, rural region is home to some of the most unique and nutritious foods in the world. The curriculum, which will be taught in four communities beginning in September, includes nutrition information on such foods as fish, kelp, marine mammals, reindeer, wild birds, and berries. Recipes include fish spread, seal pot roast, salmonberry cobbler, sea lion meatballs and kelp chips. A nutrition graphic compares the iron content in three ounces of seal meat to the same iron found in pounds of hot dogs or chicken nuggets.

“We wanted to highlight the local foods and their highly nutritious qualities, and communicate this to our younger children in a meaningful and culturally-relevant way,” said Suanne Unger, curriculum co-creator and APIA Wellness Program Coordinator.

Unger said the basis for the curriculum was to fill the gap of relevant, cultural information and highlight recipes and nutritional information about the local foods while incorporating the Unangam tunuu language (podcasts of the language can be found on the APIA website: https://www.apiai.org/community-services/traditional-foods-program/glossary-vocabulary/). While current national Head Start nutrition curricula may be applicable in Chicago or even the Navajo Nation, those in the Aleutian and Pribilof region realized that discussions on foods such as cantaloupe and broccoli weren’t quite applicable in their lessons plans since the foods weren’t grown in the region or even available in stores. 

Accompanying culturally-relevant nutrition information are activities, such as coloring a salmon, seagull or puffin, or asking a community member to talk about how animal skins were used to create kayaks and boats. Several lessons encourage asking a parent or community member to share a hunting story. The curriculum includes sample teacher letters to families discussing the next lesson and a request for donations of plants or animals to use in recipes prepared in the classroom. Parent letters also encourage participation in the classroom in activities such as teaching a traditional song or dance or helping prepare the foods.

These discussions for preschoolers and their families are vital as contemporary lifestyles and conveniences have impacted traditional ways of life. Access to affordable, fresh, nutritious, and high-quality store foods are limited while traditional local foods are right outside people’s doors.

Traditional foods have such a high nutritional value, Unger said, ‘”and because of the potential for food insecurity in the region it’s vital that people understand the importance of their local traditional foods.”

In addition to eating off the island, Kashevarof Mierzejek remembers constantly being outside growing up even in inclement weather. No TV existed so people gathered at the local movie hall for entertainment and socialization.

“Our 3- to 5-year-olds are being exposed to modern technology like video games and they stay home in front of these games, so it’s hard to get them outside. And they’re sitting there eating junk food—that certainly contributes to obesity as well,” she said. “My hope is that this book will be able to bring awareness and our children will be healthier than they ever were in the last 20 years.”

The curriculum, which was created with a one-year, $40,000 grant from the Notah Begay III Foundation, is an adaptation of a book, Qaqamii}u{: Traditional Foods and Recipes from the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands, written by Unger in 2014 compiled after she searched for a single resource guide on harvesting and cooking methods of traditional foods in the region but discovered none. The NB3 Foundation also awarded the organization an additional $5,000 for digital storytelling.

Olivia Roanhorse, NB3 Vice President of Programming, said the foundation is proud to support this Head Start curriculum as it addresses the traditional and cultural needs unique to the Unangan and Unangas. 

”We know when Native American communities take ownership of what works for them, in this case instilling healthier eating habits and lifestyles based on their values and beliefs, healthier outcomes can be achieved,” she said. “By instilling these habits and lifestyles early, APIA and their partners are creating a healthy foundation.”

For more information about the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands Association, Inc., or to view and download the free curriculum and videos on the project, go to www.apiai.org. For more information about the NB3 Foundation, go to www.nb3foundation.org.


UnitedHealthcare Becomes New Sponsoring Partner for NB3FIT WEEK

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Immediate Release                                                                                                                        

Media contact

Cyanne Lujan

(505) 867-0775

 cyanne@nb3f.org

 

SANTA ANA PUEBLO, N.M. (July 31, 2017) − NB3FIT WEEK announces that UnitedHealthcare is a Gold Sponsor of NB3FIT WEEK to help support the health and fitness of Native American children across the country. As a Gold Sponsor, UnitedHealthcare will help make NB3FIT WEEK the largest national Native youth health and fitness event in the country. Together, UnitedHealthcare and NB3FIT WEEK will reach their goal of engaging over 12,000 Native American youth in health and physical activity nationwide during the week of Nov. 5-11, 2017.

“We are honored that UnitedHealthcare is going to be one of our partners in engaging Native youth about the importance of physical activity and healthy nutrition. Together we will continue to help people live healthier lives,” said Justin Huenemann, president and CEO of NB3 Foundation.

UnitedHealthcare’s sponsorship is part of its “Do Good. Live Well.” volunteer initiative, dedicated to decreasing hunger and obesity, inspiring service and encouraging volunteerism.

To learn more about NB3FIT Week and to register your community youth activity, please visit http://www.nb3foundation.org/nb3fit-week/.

About UnitedHealthcare

UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, military service members, retirees and their families, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with 1 million physicians and care professionals, and 6,000 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at www.uhc.com or follow @myUHC on Twitter.

About the Notah Begay III Foundation

The NB3 Foundation is a national, award-winning Native American nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing Native American childhood obesity and type-2 diabetes. The NB3 Foundation invests in evidence-based, community-driven and culturally relevant programs that promote health, physical activity and nutrition, ensuring healthy futures for Native American children and their communities. We are committed to ensuring that all Native American youth live healthy, happy and fulfilled lives. (www.nb3foundation.org)

 

####


Caring companies come together to create Friends of NB3 Youth Health and support the NB3 Foundation and NB3FIT WEEK

                     

For Immediate Release

Media contact

Cyanne Lujan (505) 867-0775

cyanne@nb3f.org

 

Caring companies come together to create Friends of NB3 Youth Health and support the NB3 Foundation and NB3FIT WEEK.

SANTA ANA PUEBLO, New Mexico (July 17, 2017) − NB3FIT WEEK is excited to announce its new Diamond Sponsor − Friends of NB3 Youth Health. Friends of NB3 Youth Health is a group of caring companies that have come together in support of the Notah Begay III Foundation and its important work in addressing the health and fitness of Native American youth. With their generous $15,000 sponsorship, they will help make NB3FIT Week the largest national Native youth health and fitness event in the country! Together, we will reach our goal of engaging 12,000 Native American youth in health and physical activity nationwide during the week of November 5th through 11th, 2017.

Friends of NB3 Youth Health are: Catalyst Marketing Company; Encompass Develop, Design, & Construct LLC; MM/R/C; mark-it Smart, Inc.; Finley & Cook; Blue Lake Casino & Hotel; and Raving Consulting Company. Not only has each company made a significant dollar contribution in support of NB3FIT Week and other NB3F activities, but the individual senior executives of Friends of NB3 Youth Health have made personal commitments as well – exercising at Native youth fitness activities; attending important Native health conferences, getting the word out among their colleagues and friends, and personally attending (and supporting) numerous fundraisers for NB3F.

Dennis Conrad, President, Raving Consulting Company, shared the following:

“I want to personally thank all of my colleagues who have generously become the charter members of Friends of NB3 Youth Health – Mark Astone of Catalyst, John Stewart of Encompass, Mike Meczka of MM/R/C, Mark Ditteaux of mark-it Smart, Kevin Huddleston of Finley & Cook, and Sam Wedll of Blue Lake Casino & Hotel – not just for their dollars, but for their commitment to the health of Native youth. “

“We are delighted for the support, encouragement and genuine interest by these exemplary companies. They understand the need, but more importantly the vision and promise of Native youth,” said Justin Huenemann, President and CEO of NB3 Foundation.

Thank you Friends of NB3 Youth Health for your ongoing support of Native American youth and the NB3 Foundation!

To learn more about NB3FIT Week and to register your community youth activity, please visit http://www.nb3foundation.org/nb3fit-week/.

About the Notah Begay III Foundation

The NB3 Foundation is a national, award-winning Native American nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing Native American childhood obesity and type-2 diabetes. The NB3 Foundation invests in evidence-based, community-driven and culturally relevant programs that promote health, physical activity and nutrition, ensuring healthy futures for Native American children and their communities. We are committed to ensuring that all Native American youth live healthy, happy and fulfilled lives. (www.nb3foundation.org)

####


Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation Summer Buzzzz in Full Swing

Summer time at the NB3 Foundation is not for the faint-of-heart.  During summer we are in full swing with our programs, camps, events, gatherings and much more.  But the good news is WE LOVE IT!  This summer, our NB3FIT coaches are working 6 days a week conducting camps and lessons throughout the Albuquerque region.  The New Mexico Grande Slam was a huge success, raising over $100,000 for the kids of New Mexico. The Water First! Learning Community continues to promote water consumption and the reduction of sugar-sweetened beverages in their communities. Our community partners are diligently promoting health, nutrition and fitness throughout the country.

While we work hard, we also encourage our team to take time off and reenergize. To help with this, we officially close our office every Friday at noon during the summer months to encourage taking personal time.  Through it all, we remain thankful for the opportunity to serve our youth and their communities and to help ensure all children have the opportunity to live healthy, happy and fulfilled lives.

Happy Summer,
Justin Huenemann
President & CEO, NB3 Foundation

 

CLICK HERE TO READ SUMMER 2017 E-NEWSLETTER

Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community supports NB3FIT Week

For Immediate Release                                                                

Media Contact
Cyanne Lujan
(505) 867-0775
cyanne@nb3f.org

                                                                       

Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community joins NB3 Foundation to support largest Native youth health and fitness event – NB3FIT WEEK

SANTA ANA PUEBLO, New Mexico (April 25, 2017) − NB3FIT WEEK receives $15,000 from Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) to support the health and fitness of Native American children around the country. As the Presenting Tribal Sponsor, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community will help make this the largest national Native youth fitness event in the country! Together, we will reach our goal of engaging 12,000 Native American youth in health and physical activity nationwide during the week of November 5th through 11th, 2017.

Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is a national leader in Native health and nutrition. SMSC has committed over $5 million to improve the nutrition of Native Americans through its Seeds of Native Health campaign. This campaign represents a new extension of the SMSC’s long history of philanthropy, by committing a portion of its annual charitable giving to a dedicated purpose. Having donated more than $325 million since opening its Gaming Enterprise in the 1990s, as well as loaning more than $500 million to other tribes, the SMSC is the largest philanthropic benefactor for Indian Country nationally and one of the largest charitable givers in Minnesota.

Thank you Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community for your ongoing support of Native American youth and the NB3 Foundation!

To learn more about NB3FIT Week and to register your community youth activity, please visit http://www.nb3foundation.org/nb3fit-week/.

About the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is a federally recognized, sovereign Indian tribe located southwest of Minneapolis/St. Paul. With a focus on being a good neighbor, good steward of the earth, and good employer, the SMSC is committed to charitable donations, community partnerships, a healthy environment and a strong economy. The SMSC and the SMSC Gaming Enterprise (Mystic Lake Casino Hotel and Little Six Casino) are the largest employer in Scott County. Out of a Dakota tradition to help others, the SMSC has donated nearly $300 million to organizations and causes since opening their gaming enterprise in the 1990’s and has contributed millions more to regional government and infrastructure such as roads, water and sewer systems and emergency services.

About the Notah Begay III Foundation

The NB3 Foundation is a national, award-winning Native American nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing Native American childhood obesity and type-2 diabetes. The NB3 Foundation invests in evidence-based, community-driven and culturally relevant programs that promote health, physical activity and nutrition, ensuring healthy futures for Native American children and their communities. We are committed to ensuring that all Native American youth live healthy, happy and fulfilled lives. (www.nb3foundation.org)

####

 

 

 

 


NB3 Foundation awards $150,000 to reduce sugary drink consumption (June 13, 2017)

News Release

Contact: Cyanne Lujan, (505) 867-0775 or cyanne@nb3f.org

NB3 Foundation invests $150,000 to Reduce Sugary-Sweetened Beverage Consumption Among Young Native Children

SANTA ANA PUEBLO, N.M. _ June,13th, 2017 _ The Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation has awarded four tribes and Native-led organizations a total of $150,000 through their “Drop Sugary Drinks!” grant opportunity. The focus of the grant is to reduce young Native children’s consumption of sugary-sweetened beverages (SSB) and promote healthier beverage options such as water, breastfeeding and indigenous teas. Thanks to an investment from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, NB3 Foundation continues to support Native-led strategies to improve the health and healthy weight of Native American children throughout Indian Country.

Community partners (grantees) will also participate in NB3 Foundation’s second annual Healthy Beverage Summit to be held in February 2018. Building on the initial summit in February 2017, this second summit will bring together communities and stakeholders engaged in reducing the consumption of sugary drinks across Indian Country.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the consumption of SSBs have increased 500% in the past fifty years and is now the single largest category of caloric intake in children, surpassing milk in the late 1990s. Sugary drinks, such as soft drinks, fruit drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened milk or milk alternatives, now represent the biggest source of added sugar in children’s diets. These drinks are the one of the biggest contributors to calories in the U.S. diet, and have been linked to obesity, nutrition-related diseases and tooth decay. In New Mexico alone, 50% of Native American third-graders were either overweight or obese, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.

“We are excited to partner with four Native communities that have demonstrated their commitment to children’s health and are utilizing culturally effective strategies to address the issue of sugary drink consumption,” said Olivia Roanhorse, Vice President of Programs at NB3 Foundation.

The four recipients include:

Inter Tribal Sports – Temecula, CA

Utilizing their existing Rez Dogg Refreshments Program, Inter Tribal Sports will conduct a community assessment to understand their communities’ perceptions, attitudes and beliefs toward sugary drinks in order to drive healthy decision- making. During the assessment period, Rez Dogg, the ITS mascot will travel across reservations sharing its love for fresh and infused water, teas and homemade smoothies. ITS will also educate youth and families using the Rethink Your Drink campaign resources and through games and incentives.

Native American Youth and Family Center – Portland, OR

The Native American Youth and Family Center will assess the prevalence of sugary drink consumption and contextualize these behaviors in the lived experiences of Native American families with children ages 0-8 to understand barriers related to choosing and consuming water, breast milk and tea and promote sociocultural solutions to improve the health Native American families and future generations.

Pueblo of San Felipe – San Felipe Pueblo, NM

The Pueblo of San Felipe will work to quantify the extent that SSBs are impacting their children ages 0-8 and elicit the community’s views on how to address reducing the consumption of SSBs.  They will also provide opportunities to educate community members regarding issues connected to SSBs, including nutrition and obesity related diseases.

Waimanalo Health Center – Waimanalo, HI

The Waimanalo Health Center will launch a culturally based “well baby care” group that employs indigenous pedagogy, native language and cultural traditions to not only displace SSBs and restore healthy feeding practices but also to create a safe environment, where parents learn to make positive lifestyle choices for their children.

# # #

___

About the NB3 Foundation
The NB3 Foundation is an award winning, national Native American nonprofit dedicated to reducing Native American childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes. The NB3 Foundation invests in evidence-based, community-driven and culturally-relevant programs that promote health, physical activity and nutrition, ensuring healthy futures for Native American children and their communities. We are committed to ensuring that all Native American youth live healthy, happy and fulfilled lives. For more information, go to www.nb3foundation.org


NB3FIT WEEK: A National Week of Native Youth Health and Fitness (April 25,2017)

SANTA ANA PUEBLO, New Mexico (April 25, 2017) The Notah Begay III Foundation (NB3 Foundation) announces NB3FIT WEEK: A National Day of Native Youth Health and Fitness, from November 5th−11th, 2017. Join us in engaging over 12,000 Native American youth across the country in a shared week of physical activity, movement and health.

Building on the huge success of NB3FIT Day in 2016 and by popular demand, the NB3 Foundation is excited to expand this opportunity for health and fitness to an entire week.

Last year, 115 tribes and Native communities from 26 states organized events that resulted in over 10,000 Native youth participating in physical activities, including: runs, walks, stick games, basketball, skateboarding, kickboxing, volleyball, lacrosse, field days, obstacle courses, kickball, dance-offs, hiking, biking, traditional games, swimming, boot camps, Zumba, obstacle courses and health fairs.

“Please join us and lets continue to build a national movement of health and fitness and engage our Native kids in the importance of physical activity and health!” proclaimed Notah Begay III, founder of the NB3 Foundation.

The Foundation calls upon all tribes, Native communities, businesses, organizations, faith groups, schools and allies across the country to host physical activity and health-centered events and activities in their communities during NB3FIT Week. All activities should directly engage Native youth, including one–hour minimum of physically activity.

There is no doubt that keeping children physically active helps children grow up at a healthy weight.  Why is this important? Because today Native American children face significant health challenges setting them up for a life of health complications, including diabetes, obesity and heart disease. The good news is we can do something about this − its PREVENTABLE!

“TOGETHER, we must let our children know that health and fitness are building blocks to living a healthy life and achieving their dreams. And then we must provide accessible opportunities for healthy living directly in the communities youth live in,” said Justin Huenemann, President and CEO of the NB3 Foundation.

To learn more about NB3FIT Week and to register your community youth activity please visit http://www.nb3foundation.org/nb3fit-week/.  Also, high-profile sponsorship opportunities are available to support and be recognized during this one-of-a-kind national event.

About the Notah Begay III Foundation

The NB3 Foundation is a national, award-winning Native American nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing Native American childhood obesity and type-2 diabetes. The NB3 Foundation invests in evidence-based, community-driven and culturally relevant programs that promote health, physical activity and nutrition, ensuring healthy futures for Native American children and their communities. We are committed to ensuring that all Native American youth live healthy, happy and fulfilled lives. (www.nb3foundation.org)

###


NB3 Foundation hosts 4th Annual Healthy Kids! Healthy Futures! Conference with Special Guest Nike N7 Ambassador Jude Schimmel (April 24, 2017)

SANTA ANA PUEBLO, New Mexico (April 24, 2017) – The Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation is excited to host our 4th Annual Healthy Kids! Healthy Futures! National Conference on April 26-27, 2017. The Healthy Kids! Healthy Futures! Conference is a national platform to promote and advance topics of physical activity, healthy nutrition and community engagement.

This conference aims to inspire, motivate and celebrate the work of our partners, grass-roots organizations and all participants that work to improve the quality of health for our children. This gathering provides a wonderful place for practitioners to build networks, share stories, explore partnerships and learn from experts on methods to advance their knowledge and practice to prevent Native American childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes.

“HKHF conference is an important opportunity for Native American practitioners and organizations dedicated to improving the quality of health for Native youth to explore and share ideas and to rejuvenate.  It is our desire to elevate the discourse and the priority of Native youth health and physical activity with tribes, foundations, partners, families and youth,” said Justin Huenemann, President and CEO of NB3 Foundation.

About Notah Begay III Foundation

The NB3 Foundation is a national, award-winning Native American nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing Native American childhood obesity and type-2 diabetes. The NB3 Foundation invests in evidence-based, community-driven and culturally relevant programs that promote health, physical activity and nutrition, ensuring healthy futures for Native American children and their communities. We are committed to ensuring that all Native American youth live healthy, happy and fulfilled lives. (www.nb3foundation.org)

###

25
Feb

Ideas, Examples to Reduce Sugary Drinks Among Native American Children at First Healthy Beverage Summit (February 8, 2017)

 

Ideas, Examples to Reduce Sugary Drinks Among Native American Children at First Healthy Beverage Summit

From a junk food tax, to traditional teas, to changing shopping habits, participants in the first summit discussed ideas, challenges and current local and national progress in reducing consumption of sugary drinks by Native American children.

“Water is sacred. Sodas have become part of our tradition. It’s time to decolonize your drink,” said Andrea Pepin, Zuni Youth Enrichment Project nutrition education coordinator, quoting a fellow colleague.

Pepin was among 125 people who attended Notah Begay III Foundation’s Healthy Beverage Summit to find ways to reduce the consumption of soda, sports, fruit drinks and other sugared beverages among Native youth. The sold out February 8th gathering at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, N.M., was the first of three for grant recipients, health advocates and others interested in promoting water and breastfeeding as a first choice in Native communities.

The event was part of the Water First! project, a 2 ½ year NB3 Foundation initiative partnering with nine Native communities across New Mexico and the Navajo Nation to combat sugared drinks. Click here for a full listing of the grantees and a summary of their projects.

The work becomes more eminent as sweetened drinks now represent the biggest source of added sugar in American diets. The beverages have been linked to obesity, diabetes, tooth decay, and liver and heart disease.

“We are having a serious epidemic of both obesity and diabetes,” said Keynote Speaker Dr. Jim Krieger, Executive Director of Health Food America, a national nonprofit that uses science to drive change in policy and industry practice.

He said obesity in America has been growing since the 1980s, with an increase in diabetes in the 90s. “We’re seeing it level off a bit but we’ve never seen anything like this grow so big so fast,” Krieger said.

Native Americans have been disproportionately affected. In New Mexico alone, 50 percent or one out of two Native American third-graders are either overweight or obese, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.

What’s causing the epidemic is that Americans simply are consuming too much sugar, according to Krieger. Forty-six percent of sugars and added calories in American diets come from sweetened beverages, which have no nutritional benefit. In one study of Navajo students, 86 percent of girls and 93 percent of boys were drinking at least one soda daily.

Read about how one of our grant recipients is reducing sugary drinks

 One way to reduce consumption is through education, such as the warning labels put on tobacco products, or decreasing the availability of sugary drinks through policy, such as requiring supermarkets to put healthier beverages near the cashier isles.

Another way to diminish sugary drinks, Krieger said, is an added tax on the beverages, something Berkeley and Mexico have done. Berkeley, Calif., the first U.S. city to implement such a tax, saw a 21 percent decrease in consumption in low-income communities only after five months. Mexico, the first country in the world to pass a tax, saw overall consumption decline 12 percent and a 17 percent reduction in low-income communities.

The Navajo Nation, the first tribe in the country to pass a 2 percent tax on “junk food,” food with no nutritional value, projects $2 million annually from its tax, which will go to each of the 34 chapter houses, local governing districts, for community wellness projects, such as farming and community trails.

Closing Keynote Navajo Vice President Jonathan Nez, a leading example of how Native people can live a healthy lifestyle after dropping 300 pounds and becoming an avid runner, said the Diné and others need to remind themselves about the traditional ways of overcoming adversity, fighting what he called the “monsters” of the 21st century—diabetes and heart disease.

The Diné used to get up early, heard sheep or farm in the scorching desert sun, and survived the Long Walk, a 300-mile trek Navajos made from their homelands to an internment camp. These traditions or events provide a great teaching of overcoming and resilience, Nez said.

“You have the ability to change your life for good,” Nez said, sharing his story as an obese Shonto Chapter community leader who would try to encourage young people to live healthier lives until a teenager’s words tore into him, “Every time we see you, you get bigger and bigger.” The comment was the impetus for Nez to start walking, which turned into a love of running. He recently started training for an ultra marathon at 100k.

“When you change and when your family changes, you have the ability to change your community. You cannot help somebody if you cannot take care of yourself,” he said.

One big step in taking care of ourselves and our children is to look at how often and how much we consume sugary drinks, said Justin Kii Huenemann, NB3 President and CEO.

“It is our hope that this summit and the ongoing work of the nine grantees are not only building education and awareness across a broad mix of stakeholders, but will in fact inspire individual, family and community-led changes,” he said.

Thanks to funding from the WK Kellogg Foundation, the NB3 Foundation plans to host the 2nd Healthy Beverage Summit in 2018 building on participant and grantee discussions and ideas, and will continue to provide knowledge, resources and strengthen relationships needed to drive innovative ways to reduce the consumption of sweetened beverages among our Native American children.

 


NB3FIT Day Brings Good Health and Good Feelings (November 23, 2016)

etem-omvlkusen-unity-council-and-rekindling-7-generations6

From running to kickball to swimming to snake dancing, about 10,000 Native American youth across the country got moving on November 15 for the inaugural NB3FIT Day.

 Encouraging healthy lifestyles among Native children, the Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation launched NB3FIT this month, a national campaign to help promote physical activity in Native communities. One hundred fifteen tribes and Native American organizations across 26 states sponsored physical activities for a minimum of one hour on one day.

 From the tundra to the desert, youth learned yoga, biked, hiked or played basketball, among several activities. Youth in the Village of Barrow, Alaska, participated in traditional Eskimo games, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation held the Mvskoke Youth Games, and the Ho-Chunk Nation had double ball, lacrosse, and snake and green corn traditional dances in Black River Falls, WI. Youth and their families were treated to a 9-hole golf scramble tournament in Cochiti Pueblo, N.M.

 “Tribes and Native organizations heeded the call and displayed a commitment to improve the health and fitness of Native youth,” said Justin Kii Huenemann, NB3 Foundation President and CEO. “The number of events taking place across Indian Country on one day was amazing and inspiring. Any effort to improve and strengthen the health of our children rests in our hands as parents, families, communities and tribal nations. No one is going to do it for us.”

 The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that young people ages 6–17 participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily for the best health benefits, which is crucial in Native communities where an estimated one-third of Native youth are overweight and one out of two Native children will develop type 2 diabetes in their lifetime.

 In the Pueblo of Zuni, N.M., more than seven dozen youth and their families participated in a 2-mile walk and run, dodge ball, soccer, flag football and Zumba at the Zuni Fairgrounds sponsored by the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project (ZYEP), a nonprofit providing youth activities. Youth and their families also participated in a community clean up. 

 The outdoor music and chatter at the fairgrounds prompted residents of all ages to partake in the day’s events, including some adults who didn’t have children with them. They walked and danced, said Andrea Pepin, ZYEP nutrition education coordinator.

“An elderly woman came out when she heard the music. I said, ‘You’re welcomed to join us.’ She jumped right in and started to Zumba,” Pepin said. “That totally spoke to what NB3 Foundation’s goal was — get as many kids and people out moving for one hour that day. We had kids from 2 years old to that individual that came out from her home, which was really special to us.”

Consistent physical activity can improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels, according to the Health and Human Services Department. Regular physical activity among youth helps control weight, improve strength and endurance, build healthy bones and muscles, reduce anxiety and stress, and increase self-esteem.

 In Akwesasne, N.Y., more than 150 members of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe walked or ran while learning about their clanship in the event sponsored by Project Good Mind, a new nonprofit dedicated to the Mohawk teachings of using a good mind in every day interactions with yourself, others and the earth. Participants where given a white tree seedling to plant as a reminder to be mindful and take care of the earth.

 “It’s important for all of us adults and leaders of our communities to set the tone and pave the way for our youth to understand how important our physical self is and we do that by showing them,” Project Good Mind Co-Founder Shannon Hall said. “It’s getting them to understand that physical activity affects you emotionally, spiritually and mentally, which makes us whole.”

 At the NB3 Foundation headquarters in New Mexico, the organization sponsored the first NB3FIT National Cross Country Race for youth and adults at the Santa Ana Golf Club. The event included an open 5k and 3k, and a 1k for ages 1-10. The day also included an All-Native American high school race that also was an official qualifying race for Wings of America’s National Team. With over 200 runners, the day was enjoyed by young and old alike who participated and cheered on the runners.

 “National NB3FIT Day was a monumental event that created awareness and activity for Native communities across the country,” Foundation founder Notah Begay III said. “The sooner that tribal communities realize the urgency of the health epidemic facing our people, the sooner programs can be mobilized to level off the devastating impact type 2 diabetes is having on our children.”

 To view images from events around the country, please visit the NB3FIT Day Photo Gallery.

For more tips on staying healthy, nutritional information and physical activity, check out our recent NB3 Foundation Fall Newsletter