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11th Annual HHS Cultural Camp

Community member Anthony “Thosh” Collins practiced stretches and mindful breathing techniques with participants during the Health and Human Services Cultural Camp held at the Salt River Community Building.

More than 100 people attended the 11th Annual Health and Human Services Cultural Camp on July 21 at the Salt River Community Building.

A welcome message, prayer and breakfast were offered to participants. Camp participants began the day with a prayer and had breakfast together. The key teachings for this camp focused on kinship, with the goal of increasing the knowledge of the attendees. Socializing is a healthy way to connect to others and learn about them.

Several keynote speakers included an elder from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, Serena Padilla, who focused on how everyone in the camp was all related in some way or another. Teachings delivered by elders have been the basis for healthy tribal communities for many centuries.

The emcee for the camp was Joseph Schurz. Guest speaker Andrea Ramon, of the Tohono O’odham Nation, spoke about kinship and led rehearsed conversations and relationships with the participants. Ramon is a well-known language teacher and has taught at the University of Arizona.

Camp attendees were given family trees to complete, which were labeled in both English and the O’odham language. There were demonstrations and stories told about the various family roles identified, such as older maternal aunt.

Ernie’s Catering, owned by Community member Ernesto Lopez, brought in a lunch of barbecued chicken, fresh melon and traditional mesquite-flour biscuits.

Afternoon activities continued to focus on the meaning and practice of kinship. The final activity was facilitated by Community member Anthony “Thosh” Collins, who also runs Well For Culture. Collins led the group in a discussion and activities focusing on physical and emotional wellness. Participants practiced stretches and mindful breathing techniques, and they learned more about traditional O’odham foods.

Everyone honored the Planning Committee members who helped put on the Cultural Camp (Embracing Our Culture: Leonard Rivers, Shelly Hayes and Stephanie Honeycutt) and staff from the SRPMIC Department of Behavioral Services.

The camp was sponsored by SRPMIC Health and Human Services and is funded by a grant under the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women. The goal of the camp is to provide a bridge for attendees to learn more about their culture. It’s a best practice in integrated care to incorporate tribal knowledge into healthcare practices.

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