By Vi Waln
PINE RIDGE – The Oglala Sioux Tribe Health Education Program has attracted a large group of adults and youth who are walking their way to health.
The Pine Ridge Walking Club saw 375 participants of all ages sign up during the first two days of the program. The club is operating on a limited budget but will provide incentives as funding allows. The project is focused on getting community members together to help them become more mentally and physically healthy by walking.
Youth carnival tickets and adult powwow bracelets for the Oglala Nation Fair will be purchased with the program funding to be provided as incentives. These incentives will be distributed to a limited number of participants who were among the first to register earlier this month. Both the adult and the youth participants must walk for 30 minutes several times a week throughout the month of July in order to qualify for an incentive.
“This is an amazing opportunity for our youth and adult tribal citizens to get active and learn how to live a healthier, active lifestyle,” stated January Tobacco, who is coordinating the summer project. She thought an incentive would encourage more people to participate.
Tobacco, a 2013 graduate of Red Cloud Indian School, is a student at Stanford University in Stanford, California. She is home on the Pine Ridge Reservation volunteering as a summer intern through the Donald Kennedy Program at Stanford University HAAS Center. She also completed Wellness Coach training through NativeFit. She is also certified in CPR and First Aid.
According to the Stanford website, students develop and implement innovative service projects through the Donald Kennedy Summer Fellowship in collaboration with communities to address identified needs. The volunteer fellowship provides for student living and other limited expenses to support the completion of student projects during the summer.
It is an opportunity for undergraduate students to design and implement summer service projects, like the walking club in Pine Ridge, resulting in tangible deliverables used to sustain service to a community. Fellows may work in any field of interest to alleviate some of society’s most pressing concerns.
“It is so amazing to see how many fathers are bringing their little ones and motivating them to finish the full 30 minutes, or to see how single mothers come walk together and help each other out,” Tobacco said. “There are so many people coming out to walk.”
To find out more about the Pine Ridge Walking Club, you can call the OST Health Education Fitness Center at (605) 867-2067.