Kicopi Washburn grew up in Eagle Butte, at the heart of South Dakota’s Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. Although she has lived here since she was 8 years old, she didn’t start attending CRYP programming until she was 14.

“That’s when I was old enough to apply for an internship,” says Kicopi, now 16. “I wanted to take part in the teen internship program because I realized I would be learning new hobbies and activities every day, and I would be meeting new people. It was something to look forward to.”

Kicopi has already completed an art internship, and she is part of the current cohort of Native Wellness interns. This internship track provides instruction in physical fitness and nutrition, and connects holistic wellness to traditional Lakota values and life ways.

Through each internship, CRYP also supports the development of life skills. These range from time management and financial literacy to First Aid/CPR and safe food handling.

“The trainings have been good opportunities for me,” Kicopi says, adding, “The internships are very fun. I love that everyone who works and volunteers here is very welcoming, and I enjoy talking to each of them.”

She observed that CRYP is an important part of the Cheyenne River Lakota community because it provides resources for young people. And, it gives them opportunities to explore what they’re interested in, just as she has. 

“The thing I love most about my community is that it provides for all our  members,” she says. “It has programs like CRYP that are helping teens stay busy, and keeping them focused on the things they enjoy doing.”

Kicopi says she enjoys painting and working out, as well as playing volleyball and reading books. Eventually, she would like to go to college and earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

“I plan to travel a lot!” she says.