CRYP welcomed 73 members of the Cheyenne River community to its annual “Thanks for Kids” celebration and dinner. The festivities took place on Tuesday, November 25 at the Cokata Wiconi teen center.
A visiting volunteer group from Wisconsin’s Marquette University High School prepared the traditional, homemade, holiday-inspired meal. Much of the fresh produce came directly from CRYP’s 2-acre, naturally grown, pesticide-free Winyan Toka Win garden, and Running Strong for American Indian Youth donated the turkeys.
And, this year, the 26-year-old, not-for-profit youth organization extended a special invitation to Cheyenne River elders. Sandy Frazier, Carmelita Eagle Chasing, Debbie Day, and Sylvester Waloke attended the evening event and shared stories with participating children.
“We wanted our Thanks for Kids celebration to include opportunities for intergenerational bonding,” said Tammy Eagle Hunter, CRYP’s youth programs director. “The story circles provided a great place for our kids to connect with our community’s respected elders, and to learn from them.”
Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director, said she was very pleased with the turnout on November 25, and with the positive feedback she’s received.
“Cokata Wiconi was always intended to be a gathering place for the Cheyenne River community,” she said. “Our Thanks for Kids Dinner gives us an opportunity to share locally grown, nutritious foods, our vision for real food sovereignty and security, and of course our heartfelt appreciation for our children.”
Founded in October 1988, CRYP was first housed in a former bar on Eagle Butte’s Main Street, where it became known affectionately as “The Main.” From the very first day, the organization dedicated itself to providing reservation youth with a safe, nurturing, positive place to learn, create, play and enjoy healthy meals and snacks, giving those most at risk a real opportunity to develop into healthy, well-rounded individuals.
In 1999, the organization opened a new 4,500-square-foot facility on East Lincoln Street; still known as The Main, it caters to children ages 4 to 12. Then, in 2006, CRYP opened the doors to its 26,000-square-foot Cokata Wiconi teen center, which serves youth ages 13 to 19. The youth project also incorporates the 2-acre, naturally grown, pesticide-free Winyan Toka Win garden (1999); and the reservation-wide Family Services program (2002), which provides much-needed household supplies, heat-matching and home-improvement assistance, as well as popular distributions such as the long-running Christmas Toy Drive.
The Cheyenne River Youth Project, founded in 1988, is a grassroots, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing the youth of the Cheyenne River reservation with access to a vibrant and secure future through a wide variety of culturally sensitive and enduring programs, projects and facilities that ensure strong, self-sufficient families and communities.