Native Youth Travel to Washington D.C. for Inaugural White House Gathering

The past year has been one of growth for Native Boys & Girls Clubs, communities, and youth! Voices of Native youth who are advocating for positive change and greater opportunity are being heard across the country, including in our nation’s capital. On July 9, 2015, nearly 900 Native youth came together to represent 230 tribes from over 40 states at the inaugural Tribal Youth Gathering held in collaboration with United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY), Departments of Justice (DOJ), and Health and Human Services (HHS). Throughout their time in D.C., attendees have had the opportunity to engage with panels of elected officials on critical issues facing Native communities, network with peers from various tribes, and create awareness about the opportunities that are needed for current and upcoming Native generations.

Attending the event was an honor that was earned by many of the youth. Through the Gen I Challenge, youth had the opportunity to showcase positive changes they were making in their communities through team work with their peers. Youth were extended an invitation to the Gathering when a project promoting community wide positive change was completed and shared with the Center for Native American Youth and Gen-I staff. Native Boys & Girls Club kids and teens accepted the challenge, shared their hard work, and made their way to Washington, D.C.

Approximately twenty Club members from Native communities had the opportunity to attend the historical Gathering. Clubs members and their chaperones traveled from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Great Scottsdale, AZ; Penobscot Boys & Girls Club, ME; Boys & Girls Club of Ohkay Owingeh, NM; and Pueblo of Pojoaque Boys & Girls Club, NM for a day full of opportunity to share with elected officials and influential business men and women the impact of Boys & Girls Clubs in Native communities. In their own way, each Club member in attendance has been an influential positive change in their Club and in the lives of future generations. Their experiences and innovative ideas for change already have cleared the path for success as they have initiated the journey to a nationwide movement to improve the lives of Native youth who will become tomorrow’s leaders. Check back throughout the rest of the summer to learn more about the experiences of youth who attended the event!

Photo (top right): Tribal Youth Gathering participants from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale and the Boys & Girls Club of Ohkay Owingeh share stories before the event. Pictured (From Left to Right): Jordan M., Ohkay Owingeh; Rosemary A., Salt River Pima-Maricopa; Angelica G. Salt River Pima-Maricopa; Taylor M., Ohkay Owingeh

Photo (bottom left): Boys & Girls Club of Ohkay Owingeh Chief Professional Officer Jay Abeyta, JR., along with Clubs members Jordan M. and Taylor M., present New Mexico Congressman Ben Lujan with a gift from the Ohkay Owingeh tribe. Pictured (From Left to Right): Jay Abeyta, JR, Ohkay Owingeh; Congressman Ben Lujan; Jordan M., Ohkay Owingeh; Taylor M., Ohkay Owingeh