Tween Tech Center for Ohkay Owingeh Boys & Girls Club

Thanks to Samsung Mobile, ten Boys & Girls Clubs nationwide were provided with technology-filled classrooms in the past year. These new tech savvy rooms are sure to prepare Club kids for great futures with the intention of encouraging youth to show passion in STEM programming.

In fact, great futures are on the horizon for at least one Native Club. Ohkay Owingeh Boys & Girls Club was one of the ten Clubs that received a new Tween Tech Center. On December 7, 2014, Rio Grande Sun (the local Newspaper), Tribal Administration officials, and the Club’s Board Members were invited to the grand opening of the new center. Celebrations happened as ceremonial dances took place as well as the classic ribbon cutting ceremony.

According to Johnny Abeyta, the Club’s Chief Professional Officer, the Club plans to incorporate the new technology into STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) activities related to oil painting and glass shaping as well as the science that goes into both. The latest technology paired with imagination creates endless possibilities for these Club youth. On the weekends, they are hoping to create a healthy environment in which families can come in to learn computer literacy.


Oh, Christmas Tree!

Youth from the Boys & Girls Club of Leech Lake took a long ride to Washington, D.C. this December to present the 2014 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, or “The People’s Tree,” to the nation’s capital. An 88 foot tall tree from the Chippewa National forest was chosen this year to adorn the grounds of the U.S. Capitol. The Boys & Girls Club of Leech Lake chose five Club members to send on the trip, which was sponsored by the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and the Chippewa National Forest. Imagine: Ojibwe youth from communities on and off the Leech Lake Reservation in Northern Minnesota traveling 1,000 miles together in a coach bus. Want to learn more about the tree, and about their trip? The tree even has its own Web site where you can follow its path from Minnesota to Washington, D.C.

Youth from the Youth attended the tree lighting ceremony, which featured remarks by three members of Minnesota’s Congressional delegation and House Speaker John Boehner. You can watch this video from C-SPAN of the tree lighting ceremony. The following day youth toured the U.S. Capitol building. The trip culminated with a visit to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), where youth and Elders from the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe performed dances in their traditional regalia. You can view a short video of the dance taking place in NMAI’s Potomac Atrium if you look up NMAI on Instagram. NMAI’s handle is @smithsoniannmai (or visit

This trip was spectacular for the Club members in so many ways, but perhaps the opportunity to share some of Leech Lake’s culture was the most special part.


Teen-centric Programs at the Boys & Girls Clubs of York County

When Zombies Attack

Members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of York County (BGCYC)'s Catawba Teen Center prepared for just about any disaster imaginable this year. With help from York County Environmental Education Liaisons Club members learned how to take shelter during a tornado and also how to prepare for a possible zombie apocalypse. No, we are not kidding. Members imagined the scenario of a zombie apocalypse to think through a number of emergency situations, taking on the roles of "walkers" and "survivors", and developing plans for survival. They learned first aid such as how to bandage and care for wounds, how to splint broken arms, and what goes into a first aid kit. Members also worked with the York County Emergency Management Services who brought their mobile command center to the Club. Teens were learned just how chemical waste is handled, and even practiced using some of the mobile command center’s equipment. To see more fun photos from zombie preparedness and other programs at BGCYC, check out the Club’s facebook page.


Keeping Language Alive with a Fundraising Project

There are no fluent speakers of the Wiyot Tribe’s language alive today. According to the tribe’s Web site, a great deal of language documentation has been compiled, from written samples dating from the late 1800s, to audio recordings from the 1960s. Listen to some of those audio recordings online, and read more about the Wiyot language and culture.

In collaboration with Lynnika Butler, the Language Manager of the Wiyot Tribe, two VISTA members serving the Table Bluff Reservation in Humboldt County, CA have started a fundraiser for the local Boys & Girls Club that also supports efforts to preserve the Wiyot language. The VISTA members are selling locally roasted, organic coffee from Humboldt Bay Coffee Company in mugs printed with the word siswelhi, the Wiyot word for coffee. Interested in purchasing a siswelhi mug for yourself? Call the main number on the Wiyot Tribe’s website and ask for VISTA member Kaitlin Carney. Kaitlin hopes other staff and volunteers serving at Native Boys & Girls Clubs will organize similar fundraisers after reading this article. She said, “It was so easy to get this started. Humboldt Bay Coffee Company helps lots of organizations within the area to start small fundraisers.”

All of the proceeds from the sales go to benefit activities for youth and Elders on the Table Bluff Reservation. The Boys & Girls Club site there is in progress while Kaitlin and a co-VISTA member help the tribe through the process of establishing an official Club.


Cultivating Culture with the Boys & Girls Club of Lower Brule

Integrating culture into programming can be a challenging task for busy Native Clubs. It is a challenge that the Boys & Girls Club of Lower Brule, located in Lower Brule, SD, has taken head on. In fact, culture is central to both programming and their organization as a whole.

“We integrate culture in a variety of ways from playing Lakota Bingo to making Wasnai during cooking experiences in the T.R.A.I.L. program,” the Club’s Chief Professional Officer Tonya Derdall said. “We are blessed with a staff that has a working knowledge of the culture and are willing to share with the next generation.”

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