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Alexandria, VA 22309
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The number of at-risk youth on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is startingly high, with many having to overcome poverty, alcoholism in the home, substance abuse, and a seeming lack of opportunity. In a community known for solving tough problems, one of the toughest for the youth still remains: lack of access to healthful activities in a safe place.
The reservation is almost one hundred miles away from the nearest grocery store that provides healthy food, and the people of Pine Ridge have limited choices for healthy food and fresh fruit and vegetables.
Food insecurity on the reservation contributes to chronic health problems among the Oglala Lakota since it is more convenient for tribal members to load up on processed foods during their trips to the supermarket than on fresh produce with a short shelf life. As a result, a fifth of Oglala Lakota County residents have diabetes and other diet-related diseases.
Due to limited healthy food choices, the scarcity of grocery stores, and the high poverty rate, residents of the reservation are forced into a profound state of food insecurity. And this will continue for generations if something is not done to combat it.
A healthy community depends on strong connections between residents of all ages, and shared opportunities to play, exercise, and socialize. For years, residents on Pine Ridge have been clear about their desire for a multi-purpose space where they can gather for large-group events and provide needed programming and services to benefit the health and well-being of the community at large.
The new Oyate Ta Kola Ku Community Center will be that community space.
The community center will include a full high-school size indoor gymnasium/multipurpose room to host sports, powwows, events and more to provide a safe and constructive environment for youth, their families, and the community.
This multipurpose gym will help distinguish Pine Ridge as a healthy thriving community.
The gym center inside the Oyate Ta Kola Ku Community Center will improve lives and build a vibrant community through sports and exercise. The center will provide the youth with a place to connect with strong role models and be inspired to achieve their personal best academically, socially, emotionally, and physically.