Native American Teens Empowered through Cultural and Health Education
The United National Indian Tribal Youth, Inc. (UNITY) and Phoenix Union High School District’s Native American Education Program are working together to implement the “Students Together Against Negative Decision” campaign by teaching the NativeSTAND curriculum to empower Native American teens with positive self-identity by making healthy choices in their lives.
UNITY received an award from Inter Tribal Council of Arizona Inc. (ITCA) to implement the NativeSTAND curriculum centered on health and personal identity. The curriculum was developed by a multi-disciplinary workgroup that included Native youth, a Native elder, public health and youth development experts, and health curriculum developers. It is designed to meet the needs of today’s Native youth. It honors tradition and culture, while at the same time it meets the needs of those who walk between two different, but interconnected, worlds. While NativeSTAND acknowledges that Native youth face many of the same challenges as mainstream youth, it embraces the power and significance of their traditional teachings and cultural strengths.
NativeSTAND is adapted from STAND—Students Together Against Negative Decisions—a peer educator curriculum developed for youth in rural Georgia. It is theoretically based, using both the Transtheoretical Model (Stages of Change) and the Diffusion of Innovations Model (identifying and relying on popular opinion leaders to promote change). Its approach is comprehensive and skills-based, and includes STD, HIV, and teen pregnancy prevention, as well as drug and alcohol issues and dating violence. Sessions focus on positive personal development, including team building, diversity, self-esteem, goals and values, decision making, negotiation and refusal skills, peer educator skills, and effective communications. Participating students are identified by their peers; the process ensures that nominees come from many social groups and represent diverse cliques.
Youth from the Betty Fairfax High School are pictured on the left and members of the Phoenix Union Native American Education Program are show on the right.