One of our greatest joys at CRYP is witnessing a child who attended our youth programming at The Main successfully transition to our Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center. A’Leigh RedDog is one such success story: She first started coming to The Main at age 7, and now at 15, she is a regular in our Social Enterprise Internship Program.

“I realized I wanted to be part of the internship program when people told me about it,” A’Leigh says. “The most appealing thing to me was being able to work in a real business.”

As a Social Enterprise teen intern, A’Leigh is actively involved in the Keya (Turtle) Cafe & Coffeeshop, the Keya Gift Shop and the seasonal Leading Lady Farmers Market. Not only is she gaining priceless first-hand experience in customer service, food handling, facilities maintenance, cleanliness, financial literacy and inventory on a daily basis, she also is developing a fine work ethic and essential leadership and teamwork skills.

These job and life skills will serve her well as she progresses into adulthood. A’Leigh also has earned valuable certifications through the special trainings CRYP offers its interns.

“The First Aid and Food Handlers certifications have been good opportunities for me, because First Aid taught me what I could do to possibly save a life,” she explains, “and Food Handlers has shown me what to do and what not to do in the commercial kitchen.

“One of the things I’ve enjoyed most is being able to socialize with different people,” she continues. “The most challenging thing probably has been public speaking with customers.”

When A’Leigh isn’t busy working in CRYP’s social enterprises, she enjoys watercolor painting, writing in her journal, skating, and helping others. She hopes to join the National Guard and eventually earn a master’s degree in education; she also would like to travel.

“I want to visit Nairobi (Kenya) or Honduras,” she says. “For a vacation, just to check it out and explore.”

In the meantime, A’Leigh is dedicated to her own community on Cheyenne River. She says she loves the people, how involved they are, and how they help each other.

“I think people would be surprised to know that even though this isn’t a big community, a lot of people live here, and it’s a pretty active place,” she explains. “No matter where you look, you’ll see kids playing, people walking, people riding bikes or skateboards, and people helping each other out.”

According to A’Leigh, CRYP is an important piece of that picture. 

“One special thing about CRYP is their involvement in the community and how much they do for kids,” she says. “I think it’s important for Cheyenne River, because they help people and do positive things for our youth.”