With vaccinations continuing and a seven-day average of less than three active Covid-19 cases per day on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, the Cheyenne River Youth Project is celebrating the rollout of its spring youth and teen programs. And, to ensure that its programs will be fully staffed as it races toward summer, the nonprofit organization also is hiring.

“This is a time of optimism on Cheyenne River, and there is a lot happening at CRYP right now,” Garreau said. “We have done everything we possibly can to support our community and our kids, and to create safe spaces for our spring and summer programs. We’ve done our part, and now we’re ready — and our kids are ready. We’re so happy to have them back.”

In April, CRYP launched new cohorts of several teen internship programs. Indigenous Foods & Cooking began on Apr. 12 and will conclude on May 14, and the Art and Native Wellness internships both run from Apr. 21 to May 12. Native Food Sovereignty will begin May 17 and run until Aug. 13, with a morning session and an afternoon session each day, and Social Enterprise will run from May 24 to June 11.

All teen interns in CRYP’s five internship tracks gain valuable, hands-on experience in their chosen subject area. They also receive a series of trainings designed to enhance both job and life skills, including customer service, First Aid and CPR, financial literacy, food handling, healthy communication, and leadership.

According to Jerica Widow, CRYP’s youth programs director, the entire staff also has been delighted to welcome the community’s 4- to 12-year-olds back to campus. Garden Club, which began on Apr. 27 and runs until May 27, allows the younger children to spend time in the Winyan Toka Win (Leading Lady) Garden — pictured here — on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“Garden Club is one of our most popular programs during the growing season,” Widow said. “The kids learn how to plant, care for, and harvest the garden. While they’re out there, they’re also enjoying time with friends, connecting with the earth, and strengthening the bond they have with their own Lakota culture and life ways. There is tremendous power in learning to grow food, for individual health as well as community well-being, and we love this program as much as they do.”

Widow also noted that CRYP’s holistic and culturally relevant youth programming embraces all types of wellness, from nutrition to physical fitness. To that end, Youth Programs Assistant Wendell Nezzie is starting a Walking Club for families on May 24. Family members of all ages can walk together in the Waniyetu Wowapi  (Winter Count) Art Park and earn incentives based on the total number of miles walked. More information will be available later this month.

As June arrives, CRYP also will be managing the launch of its Turtle Island Food & Coffee Truck and preparing for the 7th annual RedCan invitational graffiti jam, which will be held in person this year. To ensure that all programs and initiatives are fully staffed, Executive Director Julie Garreau says the youth project is hiring.

“We’re excited to announce the job opportunities we currently have available,” Garreau said. “We’re looking for a full-time art director for our Waniyetu Wowapi Lakota Youth Arts & Culture Institute, and an internship manager for our Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center. We’re also hoping to find a part-time office assistant, seasonal gardener, chef and barista for the food truck, and youth programs assistances for Cokata Wiconi and The Main, our youth center for 4- to 12-year-olds.”

For more information about employment opportunities, visit https://lakotayouth.org/about/employment-opportunities/.

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, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

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.