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SRHS Young Warriors Program Provides Advice

The Young Warriors Program held a family night where several families got to take part in painting gourds provided by the program.

Salt River High School has a program for its young male students seeking advice, direction or just someone to chat with.

It’s called the SRHS Young Warriors Program.

Parent and Community Involvement Specialist Alvin Saenz noticed a need for young men to meet a couple times a week, just so they have someone to talk to and can receive support and guidance related to school and athletics.

“What I found was that sometimes they have bigger issues than what I was qualified to help them with, so I started looking at other options to work with the boys,” said Saenz.

Staff from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Social Services Division Fatherhood Program agreed to help Saenz with the program.

The Young Warriors Program covers real-life topics and life skills. This year, SRHS staff and the Fatherhood Program also wove into the program activities to help the boys maintain a connection to their culture, such as painting gourds or simply listening to powwow music. Future plans include turning the finished gourds into rattles and holding a sandal-making activity.

The Young Warriors Program started last year. Since the beginning of the current school year, the staff has come to the high school twice a week to spend time with the boys.

Kevin Poleyumptewa of the Fatherhood Program teaches the Young Warriors Program different ways to decorate their gourds at Salt River High School.
During one of the recent family activities, Kevin Poleyumptewa, of the Fatherhood Program, brought gourds for the young men to work on, as well as for when the class has family night. His idea had cultural significance with having the group paint the gourd, which in turn can be used as a rattle making project in the future. The O’odham and Piipaash use gourd rattles in songs and ceremonies. The program took time each week to create designs using paints or burn tools to carve out patterns.

“It’s open to anyone in the high school,” said Saenz. “The Fatherhood Program also comes to other functions to support the participants of the group; many are currently in baseball season and are [playing] on the team.”

The Young Warriors meet on Mondays and Wednesdays at 2:45 p.m. in the school’s Parent Center. Meetings last one hour. The program will continue as long as there is a need, Saenz said.