Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community members were given the opportunity to participate in the “Prevention Workshop: What Drug Dealers Don’t Tell You” at Talking Stick Resort on September 23. The workshop, which was held from 8 a.m. to 7:15 p.m., was part of the Educate to Elevate program and featured education and resources to help teach resistance against substance abuse.
SRPMIC Behavioral Health Services promotes the Educate to Elevate program through ongoing information and outreach campaigns. The grants help fund crucial education efforts especially geared for youth, families and early-intervention services. The efforts include training for the Community on the latest issues regarding substance abuse, suicide-prevention services and approaches, as well as support to families of youth who may be at risk for substance abuse and suicide.
Behavioral Health Services Community Health Educator Debbie Manuel said that rarely do drug dealers ever share how detrimental drug are physically or emotionally, and how much harm just one “hit of a drug” can do.
“Dealers also don’t tell their buyers that life as they knew it will change forever, that your children will suffer and be impacted in school, and, even worse, it will impact your child’s entire worldview,” she said. “Dealers will consistently fail to mention how they are ‘grooming’ children to become their next loyal customer and they only care about how they benefit from the ongoing sales and use of their customers.”
Empowering Resistance Through Self-Development
Manuel said the workshop is designed to educate young adults and parents so participants revive concepts they already know and put into action the tools they have been carrying all along. She said these tools, cultural identity and a sense of self-worth, all strengthen their ability to resist.
“Our program provides information that will elevate one’s understanding to another level for themselves and their children,” she said.
The National Indian Youth Leadership Project promotes all areas of youth development. Manuel said that for more than 25 years, NIYLP has been empowering the lives of Native youth through experiential education in a positive learning environment.
Project Venture is an example of the programs offered by the NIYLP. “Project Venture’s adventure-based programs include activities such as hiking, backpacking, rafting, ropes courses and rock climbing designed to incorporate traditional American Indian values,” she said.
Staff members from Project Venture presented education insight for group development, positive youth development, and connecting family, community and culture. The workshop dedicated three hours to teaching Community members how to cultivate character and self-esteem, strengthen decision-making skills, learn resiliency, celebrate culture and tradition, develop a service ethic, connect with caring adults, develop leadership skills and healthy behaviors, and create positive relationships. The activities involved removing participants from their comfort zones and understanding the benefits of reaching out and being supportive to one another.
Making Healthy Choices
Miss Indian Arizona Daryl Lynn Jay was the honored guest of the workshop. She shared words of encouragement and the enormous role her parents and entire family played and continue to play in her life.
“I am grateful to my parents for keeping me busy and not interested in getting involved with things that were negative,” she said.
The Parents Speak Up portion of the workshop was led by Manuel; Kevin Poleyumptewa, SRPMIC program coordinator; and Al Canez, Health Services Division health educator. It was dedicated to improving the wellness of individuals through services offered from the Health and Human Services Division.
“Our kids are not going to tell us everything, so it is important for us to make sure we are asking questions and educating our kids on sex, drug and alcohol abuse,” Poleyumptewa said.
Canez said the high school kids are learning about sex from their peers and the information is often inaccurate, which is why he believes parents must understand the tools and skills necessary to help kids make healthy choices.
A presentation on sex, alcohol and drugs was also given by Native American wellness speaker and comedian Don Burnstick, and he also performed a play and a comedy show for the participants.
For additional information on tools and resources to help kids make healthy choices, contact the SRPMIC Behavioral Health Services Division at (480) 362-7400.