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New Year, New Youth: New Year REZ-solution Youth Conference Held in SRPMIC

The New Year REZ-solution Youth Conference attracted youth from throughout the state. Youth gathered at the Salt River Community Building to learn about their overall health, with hopes of taking what they learned back to their communities and making a change.

On January 16, the Young River People’s Council (YRPC), in collaboration with the Future Inspired Native American Leaders Youth Council (FINALYC) from the Phoenix Indian Center, hosted the first-ever New Year REZ-solution Youth Conference at the Salt River Community Building.

Five different Native youth councils from surrounding cities attended the conference to partake in group activities, traditional games, traditional healthy foods and a health resources fair.

The event kicked off with an opening song by the YRPC, a blessing provided by YRPC member Ramon Lopez, and a welcome address provided by both YRPC President Sommer Lopez and FINALYC President Jowun Ben.

“Our people are faced with many illnesses, including diabetes and obesity. I believe the first step in changing the future is educating one another. Thank you for joining us here today, and with you being here, it proves that we will have a brighter future for future generations to come,” Lopez said.

The event continued with a Wellness Warrior app demonstration by UNITY Wellness Warrior Program Project Coordinator Josh Tso. One example was how Native youth can earn points by logging their daily levels of Mental, Spiritual, Physical and Social energy levels on a circular scale. The culture and language prompts will also challenge youth to earn points by asking Indigenous words for wellness or balance, traditional recipes and cultural games to be shared with their region.

“We are very proud to be partnering with Salt River because you have a youth council that has a long stand in doing some great things with youth. We are proud to put this event on today. I love that this event is 100 percent youth -led. It’s nice to see our youth rise to that leadership position because you will all be taking care of us someday. It’s important that we invest in you, and that’s what we’re doing,” said Patricia Hibbeler, CEO, Phoenix Indian Center.

Featured speakers included Community member Anthony “Thosh” Collins and Chelsey Luger, both co-founders for Well for Culture, and Waylon Pee Pahona from Healthy Active Natives (HANs). The youth were shown a presentation and asked to get into a circle, where they participated in different group activities and exercises. Each speaker provided the youth with knowledge about healthy bodies and healthy families in turn creating healthy communities.

“During this conference we had some speakers come over, and I really liked what they talked about. It was inspiring and empowering to hear Native people have a voice and they can do more things than they think they are capable of,” said Lopez.

“I thought one of the speakers was really interesting and inspiring because of how he grew up and became a leader. His story was very traumatizing, but he wants to inspire other youth to be like him. That’s how leaders are today,” said YRPC member Cienna Dallas.

The event also included a health and wellness fair and various games such as a traditional O’odham men’s and women’s game, double ball and basketball. The closing speaker was UNITY Western Area representative Joseph Davis, and the Akimel O’odham/Pee-Posh Youth Council provided a closing song before dinner was served.

For questions about joining the Young River People’s Council, email Christine Porter at Christine.porter@srpmic-nsn.gov or call (480) 362-7527.

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To find more information about the Wellness Warriors Project App, visit www.unity-inc.org