Moving to a new community is hard, especially for a young person. Not only are you transitioning into a new home, neighborhood, and school, you must actively seek opportunities to make friends, get involved, and pursue your dreams.

Fourteen-year-old Hailey Bell didn’t waste any time when she and her family arrived on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in March 2021. As soon as she learned about CRYP and its teen internship program, she signed up right away; to date, Hailey has completed the Indigenous Foods & Cooking, Art, and Native Wellness internships.

“I realized I wanted to take part in the internship program because I wanted to make something more of myself,” she says. “The appealing part of the idea was that I would get to meet others.”

All three internship tracks provided valuable learning opportunities. In Native Wellness, Hailey says she learned how to take care of her body so she can be physical and mental healthy; and in Indigenous Foods & Cooking, she learned to make nutritious snacks and build a healthier diet.

“From my art internship, I learned there is so much we can do with the tiniest bit of creativity,” she adds. “I also learned that I have a creative spark inside of me, and I have been inspired to share my creativity and artwork.”

Through the teen internships and CRYP’s regular volunteer opportunities for young people, Hailey says she took advantage of every opportunity to learn — and also to face challenges, such as talking with new people. But, she notes, she’s grateful to the youth project for all of it.

“CRYP is special because they give the youth an opportunity to learn outside of school through all these programs,” she says.

When she’s not busy at CRYP, Hailey says she enjoys coloring, writing, and music. She’s also concentrating on her schoolwork, as she plans to attend Western Dakota Tech one day and pursue a career in mechanics.

When asked if she’s happy with her new life on the reservation, Hailey enthuses, “I love Cheyenne River because of the variety of cultural beliefs and the activities for all ages. I’m not from Eagle Butte, but I’ve learned about the community while I’ve been here.”

Welcome to Cheyenne River, Hailey! We’re very glad you’re here.