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Music Group Proceeds to Benefit Youth Programs

Music is a common language among performers and listeners alike. Spreading the word about the healing power of music is something that two sisters, known professionally as the Miracle Dolls, hope to share with youth living on reservations. To them, music is therapy.

In an interview with Indian Country Today, Dani Doll shared that music has been influential in her and her sister’s life, “it’s a place to create beauty that always pushed us through tough times, and we know that it can do the same for the kids on the reservation.”

Dani and her sister Dezy will be hitting the road to promote their Native American Youth Music Program as they tour along the West coast. A portion of the sales from the Dolls’ merchandise will be used to buy musical instruments for youth on reservations.

Read more here about how the sisters got started in the music industry and what inspires them to give back to communities across the country.

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Fresh Tracks Project Creates Cross-Cultural Exchange for Native and Urban Youth

In August 2016, 16 young people from Los Angeles and Alaska will have the unique opportunity to get to know one another’s environments and culture through an exchange program called Fresh Tracks. The program will provide participants with outdoor experiences, leadership skills, a sense of responsibility for protecting their public lands, and an appreciation of each others’ cultures. Youth from urban Los Angeles and Native Youth from the Arctic Circle communities will be among the young leaders to participate in this initiative. With support from IslandWood, the Sierra Club, the Children & Nature Network’s Natural Leaders program, and others, the participants will spend three weeks together this summer in addition to receiving mentorship, and internship/job opportunities beyond the summer to create a lifetime impact. Fresh Tracks is one of several projects announced by President Obama after his influential trip to Alaska in summer 2015. According to a C&NN article written by Juan Martinez, “Many young Los Angeles residents and Alaska Native Youth face similar challenges, including high unemployment, drug abuse, and a lack of access to healthy food and parks, and higher education. At the same time, many of us are bound by shared aspirations, a desire to know the world and to make it better.” We look forward to hearing more about the outcomes of this exchange!

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Native Services Unit Shines at BGCA National Conference

Native Boys & Girls Clubs were well represented in the ‘Big Easy’ this May at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America National Conference. Located in New Orleans, this year’s National Conference was full of special guests, inspiring sessions, and dazzling exhibitors including the Native Services Unit team. For two days, conference guests were able to roam the exhibit hall and learn more about the great things happening in Native Clubs across the country. Guests were greeted by a “Welcome” sign that incorporated a salutation from each team member’s language and were encouraged to grab resources and ask questions about Clubs in Native communities. Members of the Native Services Unit team also brought pieces that represented their culture to be displayed at the booth.

Additionally, guests were invited to participate in a session created just for Native Club staff and supporters. Since 2016 is the “Year of the Teen”, special guests and panelists shared their work to reach teens in their community and their goals for future out reach. Afterwards members of the Native Advisory Committee (NAC) joined together to discuss progress made thus far and create goals for future success of all Clubs, both present and future. With another National Conference in the record books and summer arriving, it is the opportune time to reflect on past successes and plan for more great futures starting in your Club!

Photo: Carla Knapp, National Director of Native Services, BGCA, connects with professionals from Native Boys & Girls Clubs.

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Summer of Service

What better way to get your Club youth out into the community (and the outdoors) than through summer service projects? Youth Services America (YSA) has created a special edition of their Youth Service Briefing focused on ideas for engaging youth in summer service projects. Their suggestions for a successful service experience are based on these simple steps:

  1. Start with things your kids love to do. Show them that their passion and strength can be channeled into service that is both fun for them and beneficial for others.

  2. Consider issues your kids care about. What problems matter most to them? Identifying those issues and building service projects around them will help the service feel especially meaningful.

  3. Combine passions and issues for impact. Consider projects that provide an opportunity for your youths’ strengths to shine through while they work to address an issue that they care about.

  4. Encourage, support and help your kids learn. Think about how your youth could serve as leaders in the project and learn something new from the experience.

To get your youth engaged in summer service projects, check out more of YSA’s ideas and additional recommendations from the National PTA’s Our Children blog. By directing their passion, skills, and leadership towards service this summer, your Club youth can make a huge difference!

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Summer Strategies and Healthy Lifestyles

Shifting from school year to summer programming can mean a lot of different things: maybe you start seeing fewer members at the Club due to family or community trips, maybe you see many more members signing up for Club summer camps, or maybe your Club itself shifts locations and program hours. While staff and youth adjust to these changes, there are some great ways to keep them connected to one another, and your Club, even in the summer months.

One of the best ways to ensure a smooth transition to summer is to prepare your staff, volunteers, and youth for the transition. In the context of mentoring programs, this can be as simple as meeting with your matches to help them plan out when they can meet at the Club over the summer, or finding some fun, safe ways for them to communicate throughout the summer. See the latest Native Mentoring Newsletter for some other helpful tips. Hosting a summer kick-off event is also a great way to help families learn about summer opportunities at the Club, and introduce youth to any new staff or activities.

For other Club programs, summer can be a good time to explore community partnerships that can either provide physical space for activities or offer field trips, programs, or guest speakers that can come to you. Volunteers who may be busier during the school year may be on vacation just like your youth, and summer is also a good time to connect with other youth-serving organizations that may be able to share transportation or other resources with your Club.

Whether you have local sports organizations that you can partner with or not, don’t miss out on the opportunity for youth to spend their summer outdoors and engaged in physically active activities that support a healthy lifestyle. Recent NAClubs.org Funding Opportunities can even help you find grants to start sports programs at your Club. Caring for a Club or community garden, playing team sports, and exploring the local environment on hikes or paddles are all great ways to get youth outdoors and learning about how to take care of themselves.

Throughout the month, visit NAClubs.org for more ideas about summer programming and healthy lifestyles. Please also share photos of what your Club youth are up to this summer by using #NativeClubs on Twitter or Instagram!