President Barack Obama has proclaimed September “National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month,” and the Cheyenne River Youth Project is doing its part to commemorate the occasion with its own creative stand against youth obesity on north-central South Dakota’s 2.8-million-acre Cheyenne River reservation. The 25-year-old, not-for-profit youth organization is launching its first-ever “Family Fun & Fit Challenge” on Monday, September 23.
Challenge week will incorporate the Family Olympics on Monday, Family Walking Challenge on Tuesday, a Diabetes Prevention & Nutrition Class on Thursday, and the Family Dance-A-Thon on Friday. The events are open free to family members of all ages—from tiny tots to elders in their golden years.
“We know that obesity raises the risk of children developing a whole range of health problems, from diabetes and high blood pressure to heart disease and cancer, and every day, we see how these health problems are affecting families in our community,” said Tammy Eagle Hunter, CRYP’s youth programs director. “So we want to commemorate National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month with a weeklong series of special events that encourage families to get active, eat nutritious foods and make healthier choices, and to do these things together.”
On Monday, September 23, the weeklong Family Fun & Fit Challenge will kick off with Family Day, complete with Family Olympics.
“We’ll have our own Olympics-style events like a 100-meter dash, potato-sack race, chicken dance, musical chairs and other fun physical activities that get people up and moving,” Eagle Hunter explained. “We’ll also have classic CRYP Family Day activities like Tug-O-War, bobbling for applies, face painting and other painting projects.”
Tuesday is the Family Walking Challenge, which will encourage families to “take the most steps toward a healthy future,” according to Eagle Hunter.
“We’ll be giving them pedometers to track their steps, and we’ll have a Family Prize for the family that collectively has the most steps,” she said.
On Thursday, CRYP will host its Diabetes Prevention & Nutrition Class, which will be followed by a cooking class. In this class, guests will learn how to prepare an easy, healthy meal for dinner while also learning about portion control and ensuring that their family members are getting the right amounts of important nutrients on a daily basis.
Finally, on Friday, September 27, the youth project will host its Family Dance-A-Thon and awards ceremony. During the Dance-A-Thon, CRYP staff and volunteers will encourage children and their family members to dance for as long as possible; the last family standing will win a 2014 Family Services membership.
“We’ll also be giving families awards for Most Improved, Best Effort, Most Encouraging, Best Teamwork, Tortoise & Hair, and so on,” Eagle Hunter said. “We’re really encouraging family combos like mother-son and father-daughter. Physical activity should be fun, and it’s something the whole family should enjoy together.
“Helping families make wellness a priority is the best way to make sure that our young people become healthier,” she added, “and that their new habits will last a lifetime.
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, LinkedIn and Twitter.
The Cheyenne River Youth Project, founded in 1988, is a grassroots, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing the youth of the Cheyenne River reservation with access to a vibrant and secure future through a wide variety of culturally sensitive and enduring programs, projects and facilities that ensure strong, self-sufficient families and communities.