The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Recreation Department, Social Programs Division, hosts the Young Eagles program, which is geared toward boys ages 8 to 13. The Young Eagles learn about many obstacles they will face in life and how to make good choices. The program helps provide a strong foundation for the boys to build on.
The boys learn the importance of building a strong character, such as respect, responsibility, trustworthiness, citizenship and how these qualities all apply to their lives. Another positive attribute taught is leadership, whether it is at home or at school. It is the little things, like being a good role model for their younger siblings. The boys are taught that these are the positive characteristics that make them good citizens of their Community.
Recreation Social Programs Coordinator I Kevin Riding In and Coordinator II Stan Overturf oversee the Young Eagles program and do their best to be positive role models to the boys.
“We try to show them structure and discipline as well,” said Overturf.
The boys play touch football and other games to learn about team-building and sportsmanship. Male bonding is vital for the youth, who might not have the support of a positive male role model at home.
Clean living also means taking care of yourself and staying healthy. The boys learn how to practice good personal hygiene and are given shampoo, soap, toothpaste and deodorant.
Once a month, staff members from the Cultural Resources Department attend the Young Eagles meeting to share various aspects of the O’odham-Piipaash culture, so the boys learn who they are and where they come from.
Community service is one of the main focuses of the program. On September 21, the Young Eagles took part in a trash pick-up event as a way of serving and giving back to their Community. The group found a random spot in the Community and went out with trash bags, picking up trash that was lying around or caught in nearby trees and bushes. It was in a high-traffic area near the Community complexes, and the program leaders decided that cleaning up this area would emphasize to the boys how their efforts can have a positive impact, since a lot of people pass through this area on a daily basis. The boys also have painted over graffiti on vandalized homes and brick walls.
The Young Eagles program used to be known as the BRANCH, which stood for Boys Recreation Activity Nature Community and Health. About a year or two ago, SRPMIC Tribal Council Member Ricardo Leonard suggested the program be renamed Young Eagles to signify the eagle, which is a strong, meaningful species to the Community.
The group plans additional clean-ups and painting in the Lehi area, and the Young Eagles are open to any suggestions for service projects they could take on for the Community. For more information or to suggest a service project, contact the Recreation Department at (480) 362-7337.