The Cheyenne River Youth Project has introduced a new initiative at its Eagle Butte campus designed specifically for the 4- to 12-year-olds who attend programming at “The Main” youth center. Christened Main Bucks, this initiative is designed to empower these younger children, teach important life skills, and perhaps best of all, add an extra dose of fun and excitement to each week.

Here’s how it works: The children earn Main Bucks throughout the week based on their behavior and the completion of specific tasks. Then, on Fridays at 6 p.m., they’re allowed to go shopping at The Main Store, where they can spend their Main Bucks on toys, books and other items ranging from $1 to $10 — in Main Bucks currency, of course.

“We’re all excited about this program,” said Jerica Widow, CRYP’s youth programs director. “The young children are really taking ownership of The Main, helping to organize, clean, and make sure it looks nice. The Main Bucks initiative is reinforcing the idea that The Main really belongs to them.

“While the kids are learning to help maintain this facility and all the tasks that go along with that, they’re also rewarded for good behavior and practicing traditional Lakota values,” she continued. “And, they’re learning how to manage money—earning it, saving it, and then making good purchasing decisions when they shop. It’s fun for them, and it’s fun for us as well.”

Best of all, the kids are working together toward one big goal: a special lock-in, tentatively scheduled for November. If they collectively earn enough Main Bucks, the overnight celebration at The Main will be theirs.

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.