On Friday, November 1, the National Indian Education Association presented the Cheyenne River Youth Project® with its 2013 Community Service Award. The special awards luncheon took place during the 44th Annual NIEA Convention & Trade Show at the Rapid City Civic Center in Rapid City, South Dakota.
During the luncheon, the not-for-profit, grassroots youth organization was recognized for its positive impact on native student academic achievement. According to the NIEA, the award recognizes the youth project itself as well as all who are involved in its success.
“We’re so touched that our work is being acknowledged by the National Indian Education Association as we celebrate 25 years of service to the Cheyenne River Lakota nation,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director.
On South Dakota’s remote, 2.8-million-acre Cheyenne River reservation, the unemployment rate hovers around 75 percent, and roughly 50 percent of households fall below the poverty level. For many young people on the reservation, the desire to pursue a happy, successful future can be overwhelmed by the pressing, all-too-adult matters of everyday life: getting enough to eat, keeping warm, and dealing with friends’ and relatives’ substance abuse problems.
Since 1988, CRYP has been dedicated to providing these young people with access to the vibrant, secure future they crave through a broad range of culturally sensitive, enduring programs and projects. It has created two fully equipped facilities where youth can receive the attention they deserve: The Main youth center for children ages 4-12 and the Cokata Wiconi teen center for youth ages 13-18.
“Kids have to grow up fast here, and many of them carry tremendous burdens,” Garreau explained. “It’s no wonder that they can be inattentive in school or occasionally act out. We need to advocate for their needs and then guarantee that those needs are met.
“Our centers encourage the development of valuable life skills that will help our young people deal with the obstacles they face,” she added, “and help them achieve their dreams, whatever they may be.”
As CRYP commemorates its 25th anniversary, it remains the largest independent youth program on the Cheyenne River reservation and a valuable resource for local families. And it has become known nationally for its steadfast dedication to Lakota youth.
“Education has always been a major component of our mission in the Cheyenne River community,” Garreau noted. “We’re deeply honored to be recognized by the National Indian Education Association for our work.”
NIEA is a leader in native education, from advocating on key policy issues to being involved with groundbreaking research. The organization works to build partnerships with tribal and native communities, and it creates alliances with organizations who share a common vision. It is dedicated to impacting and improving the opportunities provided to native students and their families. To learn more, visit www.niea.org.
To learn more about the Cheyenne River Youth Project and its programs, and for information about making donations and volunteering, call (605) 964-8200 or visit www.lakotayouth.org. And, to stay up to date on the latest CRYP news and events, follow the youth project on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.