For 20 years, the Cheyenne River Youth Project has helped young people on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation prepare for their high school prom through the beloved Passion for Fashion event, also known as Wačhípí kta Iglúwiŋyeyapi (Youth Get Ready for the Dance). This year, thanks to a special collaboration with Ryan Moran and Our Circle Conceptions, CRYP was able to go one step farther.
On Friday and Saturday, Apr. 28-29, young people were able to receive pre-prom haircuts at the nonprofit youth organization’s Čhokáta Wičhóni (Center of Life) teen center. Barbers and hair stylists served 17 youth, including seven from the Sacred Heart Center.
“Ryan Moran reached out to us to see if they could use our space for this program,” said Jerica Widow, CRYP’s programs manager. “We have collaborated with him in the past on basketball tournaments, and we thought this new idea was fantastic. Many people in our reservation communities cannot afford to get haircuts or have their hair professionally styled before the prom, which is such an important event in their young lives. This was something special the kids could do for themselves.”
In addition to helping the young people get ready for the prom, the two-day haircut service also provided a valuable opportunity for self-care and building self-esteem. In that sense, Widow said, it offered a natural extension of Passion for Fashion’s mission.
“In the years to come, we’d love to build upon this initiative with our community partners so we can offer a variety of pre-prom services at our campus,” she said. “At Passion for Fashion, which is usually several weeks before the prom, kids are searching for the right formalwear, accessories, jewelry, and makeup. But on the weekend of prom itself, many will need assistance with haircuts, hair styling, makeup application — even smaller things like putting on a suit, tie or tuxedo.
“We want to encourage community partners and volunteers to reach out if they’re interested in helping out with this as we head into the 2023-24 school year,” she continued. “Not only do I think we can provide valuable services to our young people, I think it will be a lot of fun for all of us.”
In addition, although the next Wačhípí kta Iglúwiŋyeyapi event is a year away, the youth project already is gathering donations for 2024.
“Prom season is over, and students across America are looking toward the end of the school year,” Widow said. “Now is the perfect time to consider sending gently used dresses, shoes, jewelry, and other accessories if they are no longer needed. We’re also happy to take bath sets, makeup and other self-care items.”
To make in-kind or financial contributions to CRYP’s Wačhípí kta Iglúwiŋyeyapi program, visit lakotayouth.org/give.
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.