'Native Vision Sports Camp' Helps Youth
Source: Sho-Ban News, Ft. Hall Idaho
BERNALILLO, N.M. (AP) - Drugs, alcohol, peer pressure - Danetta Cate doesn't give in.The 12-year-old has seen how bad influences affect children on Santo Domingo Pueblo, where she lives. So she points her peers in the direction of Native Vision, an annual sports and life skills camp for American Indian students grades four through 12.
"It helps me to learn bad stuff is not going to help you with your life,'' she said.
The annual camp, held this week at a high school just north of Albuquerque, has attracted 750 American Indian students from 30 tribes across the country. Camp organizers say it's among the largest camps in the United States for American Indian students.
While most students hope to brush up on their sports skills, they also participate in health fairs, community service projects and parenting workshops, among other things."We learn how to appreciate ourselves and succeed in our lives and not be ashamed of who we are,'' said Victoria Atencio, who is attending the camp for the second time.
An added incentive: the 45 professional, retired and collegiate athletes who donate time to teach clinics in football, basketball, volleyball, soccer and running.
Martin Coriz, a senior at Santa Fe Indian School, said the basketball clinic is more physically challenging this year. He gained some shooting and ball-handling skills last year - mostly the basics - but he said he's back for more.
“I want to be the same as the other athletes who volunteer their time here ,” Coriz said. “Help younger kids…give them advice to help them in the future.” He’s just not taking away skills he can use on the court. He said he also gets a chance to express himself, meet other people and learn about other cultures, religions and languages. “It helps me be more aware of other tribes.”
A lot of talent is showcased during this camp according to Steve Jordan, who played for the Minnesota Vikings from 1982-95. "We got kids out here on the rez that have a lot of game,'' he said.
Breakout sessions during the sports clinics give the athletes a chance to promote teamwork, discipline and higher education. Jordan added he's had some candid, fruitful conversations with the students and gives them credit to those who have turned their lives around.
Jordan, an Arizona native, heard about the camp when it started in Chinle, Ariz. He said the positive environment attracted him to the camp, where he has volunteered for the past eight years.
"To see the goal of the program is really refreshing. A lot of times people see American Indians as being completely different because many of them live on reservations, but they struggle with the same problems as any other culture, including gangs, single-parent homes and health. Given the right opportunity, you can create some really good kids.''
Mathuram Santosham, director of the Center for American Indian Health at John Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health, maintains he's seen a big difference in the returning campers' lifestyles. The rates of obesity, respiratory disease, substance abuse and suicide are typically higher among the American Indian population. The idea is "to get to the kids early on and try to affect their lifestyle.''
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Submitted by Alyssa Macy
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