Running Strong for American Indian Youth® 2020 Dreamstarter® Tia Yazzie (Navajo Nation) is realizing her dream to create a mental and behavioral health support group for Native youth in her community in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Through the creation of her Native Youth Support Group (NYSG), the 24-year-old is creating a safe environment while also teaching holistic and culturally-based healing methods, and increasing awareness of mental and behavioral illness and help struggling Native youth in her community.
In November, Tia hosted a “Meet & Greet” via Zoom for Native youth to learn more about her mentor organization, the Urban Indian Center of Salt Lake, and the NYSG which “is designed to create a healthy, safe space for Native youth aged 12 – 24 years old in the Wasatch Valley.”
And she has been busy since then holding monthly virtual sessions, beginning with an information session for parents and youth to participate in so they could ask questions and decide what activities they would like to participate in and see.
Among the projects she hosted were an Indigenized Ginger Bread House contest and Generation Red Road Training in December, a “Draw Your Roots!” project in January.
“We received training through Generation Red Road in which this activity stemmed from,” reported Tia. “The Draw Your Roots activity asks participants to draw their trees in which they would express what makes them unique, share their dreams, share who supports them, and much more.”
In February, she invited an elder from the Urban Indian Center to talk with youth about her experience, her culture and language.
“We also wrote over 20 cards to Native American elders as we wanted to make sure they didn’t feel alone during the pandemic,” said Tia, noting that the elder delivered the cards to the elders at their monthly Wisdom Keepers group meeting.
In March, she hosted an Indigenized Easter Egg program in which she purchased plastic eggs, sand and other supplies for youth to indigenize their eggs and share their eggs and the ideas behind them.
In May, she invited a guest speaker, Brian Frejo, a Native American actor and composer who is also a motivational speaker, cultural activist and youth advocate to discuss the importance of spring in relation to their mental health.
In addition, she also did a “plant care for self-care” activity in which they planted seeds together and talked about how taking care of plants boosts well-being.
Currently, Tia, who attended Running Strong’s virtual Dreamstarter Academy in April, is working on developing plans for the coming months.
“We are excited for this summer!!”