CRYP’s popular Passion for Fashion event will return this spring with a drive-thru event on Mar. 19 and private formal-wear appointments starting Apr. 1. These appointments likely will be available through May 1, although CRYP will provide updates based on local schools’ plans for the prom.
The program’s Lakota name is Wiŋčhíŋčala Teȟíla Ukiya, which means “the cherished young girls are coming back here in a group.” According to Jerica Widow, programs director, the name resonated deeply with the CRYP staff.
“We had to cancel Passion for Fashion in March 2020 due to Covid,” she explained. “Last year, we knew we had to find a way to bring our young women together, to lift them up, and to show them that no matter what happens, we are deeply connected as Lakota people. So we designed a drive-thru event, and we allowed the girls to visit us individually to choose dresses, shoes, and other prom accessories.”
Now, for a second consecutive year, the CRYP team is preparing for a similar drive-thru distribution. From 12 to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Mar. 19, young people may stop at the Čhokáta Wičhóni (Center of Life) teen center to pick up self-care gift baskets that include jewelry, makeup, hair accessories, bath and body products, sage, and more.
Afterward, participants may contact the CRYP office at (605) 964-8200 or Widow directly at email@example.com to set up their private appointments to search for the perfect prom dress, as well as formal shoes and other accessories.
“Although we originally created Passion for Fashion more than a decade ago to help our teenagers prepare for the prom, the program always has been about so much more than that,” Widow said. “It’s about building positive self-esteem, embracing traditional values, and celebrating Lakota culture. It’s about feeling empowered.”
All high-school girls on the Cheyenne River reservation receive personalized invitations to Wiŋčhíŋčala Teȟíla Ukiya. For this year’s event, CRYP is seeking donations of jewelry and hair accessories; makeup, bath and lotion sets; gift cards and cash donations. Staff and volunteers will take any contributed funds and make additional purchases based on need.
The youth project also is continuing to accept the donation of new and gently used formal dresses in sizes 4-26, and dress shoes in all sizes, for the anticipated return of in-person Passion for Fashion in 2022. In particular, CRYP needs dress sizes 16 to 26 and shoe sizes 9 to 12.
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 is dedicated to giving our Lakota youth and families access to the culturally relevant, enriching, and enduring opportunities we need to build stronger, healthier communities and a more vibrant future together.