Youth Projects to Be Featured at Today’s Native Leaders National Summit – UNITY, Inc.

Youth Projects to Be Featured at Today’s Native Leaders National Summit


Mesa, AZ—Six Native American youth groups have been selected to share their service projects in Washington, DC during the Today’s Native Leaders National Summit on July 9, held in conjunction with the White House Tribal Youth Gathering. UNITY partnered with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in 2013 for the Today’s Native Leaders (TNL) program. This exciting four-year initiative offers Native youth the opportunity to participate in trainings throughout the country that provide a plan for developing and implementing service projects in their communities.

In the past year, trainings have been held in Arizona, Florida, and South Dakota. Over the next couple of years, TNL staff and trainers will host events in five additional locations throughout the country including Washington, Minnesota, Oklahoma, California, and Massachusetts. A schedule of the remaining sites are available on the UNITY website at

The six groups selected to share their projects will talk about their experiences and goals for the future. The following exemplary projects will be featured at the UNITY TNL National Summit on July 9 as proof Native youth are creating positive change in their communities:

The Mesa Strength Youth Council from Mesa, Arizona, participated in the TNL training in its hometown in June of 2014. The group hosted the Lil Stars: Health and Fitness Camp. The event was designed to promote health and wellness amongst 1st – 8th graders. The event was held last month in Mesa, Arizona. The day consisted of three stations: a fitness workshop, traditional games, and a nutrition presentation for the youth. Participants rotated stations after 30-40 minutes. During snack time, a guest speaker talked to the kids about healthy living.

The North Carolina Native American Youth Organization (NCNAYO) and Warren County Indian Education Program NASO Club of Nashville, North Carolina participated in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida TNL training in October of 2014. It’s project EYL Movement (Empowering Youth Leaders) was designed to promote cultural involvement and access to native youth councils, such as NCNAYO, in culturally under-privileged communities. The EYL Movement will begin with a kickoff during the 2015 NCNAYO Youth Conference from June17-20. Youth will be brought together for a day of fun, culture, leadership, and empowerment. Activities will include games, icebreakers, talking circles, culture stations (beading, basketry, regalia making, native games, etc.), workshops on safe driving, healthy lifestyles, and leadership (starting a youth council, involvement in tribal government, and fundraising).

The Chahta Alla Youth Council of Choctaw, Mississippi, participated in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida TNL training in October of 2014. It’s project, Alcohol Abuse Awareness Day, which will be held this week on June 12, will consist of a presentation to fellow peers in the community about alcohol abuse. The youth who register to participate will complete a survey regarding their current knowledge of alcohol use. Youth council members will perform a skit about the affects of alcohol abuse. Participants will walk through an obstacle course while wearing alcohol impairment goggles. A law enforcement officer will be present to assist in this activity, then talk to all participants about their experience.

The Lahcotah Voices of Pine Ridge, South Dakota, participated in the Rapid City, South Dakota TNL training in April of 2015. It’s project, Whiteclay Dam Beautification project, will be ongoing throughout the month of June. Group members will clean up the dam where many youth go to fish and swim in the summertime. Partnerships with various tribal programs will make it possible to place trash cans in high traffic areas, pick up the trash that is currently littering the dam, and put up signs about respecting “Unci Maka” (mother earth). The youth would also like to promote the need for a family area to include benches and a playground.

The CRST Youth Horsemanship Program of Eagle Butte, South Dakota, participated in the Rapid City, South Dakota TNL training in April of 2015. It’s project “X” is about X-ing out bullying one community at a time. Project X is an Anti-Bullying project viewed from a youth perspective. It focuses on promoting positivity and uniting communities. Last month the youth group encouraged community members to join a Bully Walk in order to bring awareness to the bullying epidemic present in the community. After the walk, group members visited local businesses and handed out notes of positivity to every person they came in to contact with. Many people received hugs along with their notes.

The Horse Creek UNITY Youth Council of White River, South Dakota, participated in the Rapid City, South Dakota TNL training in April of 2015. It’s project, the Health and Fitness Family Kickball Tournament, was designed to unite the Horse Creek community in a sober, drug-free, and safe environment. Earlier this month, the youth council hosted the kickball tournament at the local community baseball field. Youth brought families together in a healthy way and encouraged them to work as a team as they competed against other families. Teams consisted of family members of all ages, from little kids to grandparents. A meal was provided for all attendees and awards were presented to the winning teams.

About Today’s Native Leaders
Today’s Native Leaders results from a four-year cooperative agreement between UNITY and the US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). The project is designed to offer regional and national trainings and learning opportunities for American Indian youth to increase positive outcomes in their school, community and family environments.

The TNL initiative will offer tribal youth leadership training in seven regions over the next 2 years. Future trainings have been scheduled for Spokane, WA later this year; Palm Springs, CA, and Saint Paul, MN, in 2016; and Boston, MA, in 2017. Trainings will expand the number of UNITY youth councils and youth-led community service projects.

For more information or an application for the training in Spokane, Washington call Lynnann Yazzie at (480) 718-9793 or email her at  For information about UNITY go to

This project was supported by 2013-TY-FX-K008 awarded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs.