As the days get shorter and colder, the staff and volunteers at the Cheyenne River Youth Project are working hard to make sure local children and teens have plenty to keep them busy during the week. The nonprofit youth organization has scheduled special after-school activities at both The Main youth center and Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center, which will run through December.
At The Main, 4- to 12-year-olds have Garden Club and arts and crafts on Monday, Bike Club and arts and crafts on Tuesday, Sensory Night on Thursday, and Sphero Night and arts and crafts on Friday. The youth center is closed on Wednesdays.
“The kids love Sensory Night, which involves exploring a variety of textures and substances with their hands and learning how they mix together, ” said Jerica Widow, CRYP’s youth programs director. “We’ve found that, while they’re having fun, they’re also improving their focus and concentration.”
At Cokata Wiconi, teens can enjoy “open gym” hours on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; like The Main, the teen center is closed on Wednesdays. On Thursdays, they also have Sphero Night, Game Night, and time for arts and crafts.
“Sphero Night has been a big hit for all of our kids, teens and younger children alike,” Widow said. “They can experiment with the balls, which were provided through the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, and use them in specific games and projects.”
Sphero is a robotic ball controlled by the Sphero app for tablets and smartphones. Once the app is installed, the Sphero robot ball is turned on, and Sphero has connected to the device via Bluetooth, the adventure begins-from games and simple programs that allow the robot to change colors and repeat movement patterns to in-depth STEM lessons and challenges.
At a 2017 AISES enrichment camp in Eagle Butte, for example, children were able to use the Sphero balls to design their own fishing boats and rescue sunken toys in a kiddie pool. They also channeled their artistic abilities and used the Sphero balls to draw their own group mural, demonstrating that the technology works well with both STEM and STEAM.
The fall youth programming calendar officially will end in early December, with Christmas parties at The Main and Cokata Wiconi on Dec. 2 and 3, respectively. After that, both centers will close through the new year, to allow staff and volunteers to transform the CRYP campus into a 24-7 Santa’s Workshop for the Wo Otúh’an Wi Toy Drive.
To stay up to date on the latest CRYP news and events, follow the youth project on Facebook (/LakotaYouth), Twitter (@LakotaYouth) and Instagram (@lakotayouth and @waniyetuwowapi).
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.