Spring is around the corner, and that means it’s almost time for Wačhípí kta Iglúwiŋyeyapi (Youth Get Ready for the Dance), our long-running pre-prom program for young women and two-spirit youth. This year’s event will take place from 12 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Mar. 23 at CRYP’s Čhokáta Wičhóni (Center of Life) teen center for one of its most beloved programs.

More commonly known as Passion for Fashion, this annual event initially was designed to provide all the essentials young women need for that quintessentially American rite of passage: the high school prom. While it still serves that purpose, the program has evolved over the years to become a celebration of Lakota culture, family relationships, friendships, and simply being who you are.

This year’s theme is “Shine Bright Like Your Ancestors,” and according to Chief Executive Officer Julie Garreau, this is in keeping with CRYP’s dedication to grounding all of its programs in traditional Lakota values and life ways.

“When our young people come to Wačhípí kta Iglúwiŋyeyapi, they certainly will find the formalwear and accessories they need for the prom, but they also will have opportunities to learn how they can look to our ancestors for strength and inspiration as they navigate challenges in their own lives,” Garreau explained. “This is important to us at CRYP, because we know from our 35 years of experience that a strong connection to Lakota culture is essential for the long-term health and well-being of our children.”

When the teens arrive at the CRYP campus, they will enjoy a luncheon catered by the youth project’s own Keya (Turtle) Cafe, a few icebreaking activities, and a keynote speech. From there, they will head to the gymnasium where they can choose and try on formalwear and shoes, select jewelry, and enjoy pampering such as hair styling, makeovers and nail care. 

Community ambassadors and volunteers will join in the fun, and family members of all ages are welcome to attend as well. The evening will end with a fashion show and swag bags filled with goodies to take home. 

For this year’s event, the youth project needs new and gently used dresses and other formalwear, shoes, jewelry, hair accessories, makeup, bath sets, gift cards, and cash donations. Staff and volunteers will take any contributed funds and make additional purchases based on need. 

CRYP is hoping to have all donations in house by Mar. 22, but the youth project will continue to accept items after that date for young people who are unable to attend the Mar. 23 event. To learn more about CRYP’s Wačhípí kta Iglúwiŋyeyapi program, and to make a contribution, visit lakotayouth.org/passion-for-fashion.

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.