Making A Difference

Community involvement is something that can start small and make a big impact. Check out a few stories from youth activists about how and why they decided to make a difference. Get inspired! Indian Country, rise up!

Protecting sacred sites? Speaking up about climate change? Fighting for our rights? Making your voice heard? Tell us about it!

Have an idea? Apply for up to $475 to make a difference in your community.



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NEE'NIJI Youth Day

In July, Virlencia Begay (Navajo), age 20, hosted a youth day called Nee'Niji. Activities included health awareness presentations, traditional teachings, physical activities (5k run, basketball, kickball, volleyball), college prep advice and a water balloon fight :) The group applied for and received a We R Native mini grant for $475 to help advertise, provide food and purchase school supplies to give out. They promoted their event by hanging up fliers, word of mouth and shared on social media. The event was a huge success and created a fun and supportive environment for over 200 people!
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Niitsitapi Nation - Ferris H.S. Leadership Club

In June, Jaycee Carrywater Jr.(Cheyenne/Lakota), age 15 and the Niitssitapi Nation (Ferris H.S. Leadership Club) from Spokane, Washington helped break down stereotypes while giving back to their community. The group applied for and received a We R Native mini grant for $475. They budgeted their money and purchased deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, socks, bread, deli meat and cheese. After going to the store and purchasing these materials, they put together care packages to bring to their local homeless shelter. The event was a success and the group shared their stories on our YT channel!
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In November, youth from Nimiipuu held a teen night where they learned about condoms, the importance of reducing your risk, and protecting the ones they love. Kiara Garcia and Jessica Douglas led the STD game where everyone was given a cup of clear liquid and had to mix their cup of liquid with 3 other people. At the end of the game, they saw who had an STD or HIV or both. Afterwards they talked about how the liquids didn't smell or look any different and how STD's can also show no signs or symptoms. The event was a huge success and they even had a participant approach them about wanting to do their own teen night.
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Northern Diné Youth Committee

To celebrate National STD Awareness Month in April, the Northern Diné Youth Committee hosted an all-day Get Yourself Tested (GYT) event. The event was open to the public, and included a 5K run/1 mile walk, a dodgeball tournament, food, and special performances by DJ Smash and Digital Divide. To help folks get tested, the youth committee partnered with Navajo AIDS Network to offer free, confidential STD/HIV testing to those who attended.
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Nulato Tribal Youth

In June, the Nulato Tribal Council (NTC), Nulato Life Project (NLP), State of Alaska and Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC) held a boating safety class in Nulato. This was a two day class and covered risky and safe behavior while on or near the water. William Agnes, James Patsy II, Marvin Cimeon Mountain IV and Elizabeth Stanley each presented a subject to the community and gave out free life jackets.

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Ombi' inspire somebody lacrosse

In September, Ma'iingaans Loonsfoot (Keweenaw Bay Ojibwe), age 23, created a lacrosse program to bring back our traditional game of lacrosse and provide youth with a healthy alternative to drugs and alcohol. Anyone that wanted to learn about the tradition and modern games of lacrosse along with the history of the game and traditional teachings, like respect, that go into playing lacrosse, could. The project is still ongoing and I work with many school groups at least once a month. I also work with the men's and women's collegiate lacrosse teams in my area to teach them how to be good mentors and role models for the tribal youth in the area. I also am really excited about this project because, I am able to be a leader/role mode and mentor of lots of tribal youth. So because I never had any good role models growing up, I wanted to do something that allowed me to help mentor other kids who don't have good role models. I'm always there for them to lean on. If you are interested in carrying out a similar project, I suggest sticking with it; It can be hard to start a new project, but if you stick with it you can accomplish anything! Also, have fun! When you are engaged with the people you work with then you can have a greater impact. Even if you don't think your project/program was a success, it was. Even if only one person showed up you probably made an impact in their life whether you know it or not. I always say that the people who show up are the ones that are meant to be there.