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From left are Dan Dudley, a member of the Red Lake YouthBuild/ Ameri Corps, Kevin Hart with Red Lake Traditional Foods, Susan Ninham, Red Lake project coordinator of the Statewide Health Improvement Program, Garnet Mountain, manager of the Red Lake YouthBuild/ Ameri Corps, and Bryan Beaulieu, member of the YouthBuild /Ameri Corps. Pioneer Photo/ Anne Williams

Red Lake Reservation: New initiative strives to fight obesity

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A group of organizations have started a new initiative to tackle obesity and increase physical activity on the Red Lake Reservation.

A four-month initiative called "Ambe, odaminodaa!" which means "Come, Let's Play!" will kick off at 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 14, at the Ponemah School.

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The Red Lake YouthBuild/AmeriCorps, Boys & Girls Clubs of Ponemah and Red Lake, Statewide Health Improvement Program, Red Lake School District, Traditional Foods of Red Lake and Wal-Mart have partnered together to raise awareness about obesity.

From Jan. 17 to April 15, evening programs will be offered to the public, free of charge, at various locations on the Red Lake Reservation. The programs will be held from 5-8 p.m. Fridays, Jan. 14, Feb. 4, Feb. 18, March 4, March 18 and April 15.

The programs will feature activities that promote living healthy lifestyles, including lessons on traditional foods, traditional American Indian games, healthy eating habits and more.

Planning the initiative started last fall when Garnet Mountain, manager of Red Lake YouthBuild/AmeriCorps, and Susan Ninham, project coordinator of the Red Lake SHIP program, met to discuss ways their programs could work together, particularly in the area of health and nutrition.

Together they were able to gather other organizations and businesses to participate and plan a reservation-wide initiative that would raise awareness of obesity.

Since September, the collaborative effort has received several grants and donations to fund the initiative. One of the grant received, the UnitedHealth HEROES grant, is a service-learning, health literacy initiative developed by UnitedHealth Group and Youth Service America. The program awards grants to help youth, ages 5-25, create and implement local, hands-on programs to fight childhood obesity.

"We really wanted to address nutrition in the community," Ninham said. "We are trying to engage the community in understanding that nutrition and physical activity go hand-in-hand when reducing body weight."

Ninham said while obesity is prevalent on the reservation, so is the use of tobacco and smoking. She said after researching statistics on the use of tobacco on the reservation, she learned almost eight out of every ten adults smokes. She hopes to also address this issue through the initiative.

A group of youth from the Red Lake, Redby and Ponemah communities helped plan the "Ambe, odaminodaa!" initiative, including naming it.

"This was student-driven," Mountain said.

"We held brainstorming sessions in October, surveyed the students in writing and they helped come up with ideas for the grant activities," Ninham added.

The months in which the "Ambe, odaminodaa!" activities will take place is important to note, Ninham said. The initiative begins on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 17, and ends on Global Youth and Service Day, April 15.

"It is our responsibility as a society to give back to the community that supports you in your daily living," Ninham said. "That part of it was the King emphasis."

For the culminating event in April, Ninham said they have an activity planned where a tribal elder will give cooking lessons on how to make recipes with fish, wild rice and traditional "outdoor bread."

Ninham said her hope is the initiative will increase the number of families choosing to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, engaging in physical activity at least five days a week.

"That will contribute to reducing obesity," she said.

Mountain said he hopes the activities will help young people make good choices in all aspects of their life.

The coordinators of the events set a goal to attract 100 children and 200 community members to each activity night.

"We want to see approximately 300 attendees at minimum," Ninham said. "If we get more than that, that's great."

Ninham said the planners of the initiative purposely designated Friday evenings for the activity nights.

"Friday nights, historically, people go to shop or do chores," she said. "We're hoping that by promoting this on evenings when people generally don't have other events in community to go to, this will be a primary."

Ninham added even though the initiative targets people living on the Red Lake Reservation, the activity nights are open to anyone.

While Mountain and Ninham are pleased to have received the funding to put on the initiative, they admitted feeling a little concerned about the sustainability of the activity nights.

"The hope is we're going to be able to, throughout this process, garner more organizational support within the community," Ninham said. "We want to have the kids really press upon the community how important this is to them."

Ninham said she feels the key to having the initiative make a lasting impression is to make sure the youth are involved in the decision-making process, implementation and evaluation of the activities.

"That was one of the beautiful things that I really like about the (UnitedHealth Heroes) grant," she said. "We are engaging the youth in a great idea for themselves and the community."

For more information, contact Ninham at 218-679-4228 or Mountain at 218-679-3350, extension 118.

Program schedule

E Jan. 14, Ponemah School.

E Feb. 4 and Feb. 18, Boys & Girls Club, Red Lake.

E March 4 and March 18, Ponemah School.

E April 15, Boys & Girls Club, Red Lake.

A group of organizations have started a new initiative to tackle obesity and increase physical activity on the Red Lake Reservation.

A four-month initiative called "Ambe, odaminodaa!" which means "Come, Let's Play!" will kick off at 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 14, at the Ponemah School.

The Red Lake YouthBuild/AmeriCorps, Boys & Girls Clubs of Ponemah and Red Lake, Statewide Health Improvement Program, Red Lake School District, Traditional Foods of Red Lake and Wal-Mart have partnered together to raise awareness about obesity.

From Jan. 17 to April 15, evening programs will be offered to the public, free of charge, at various locations on the Red Lake Reservation. The programs will be held from 5-8 p.m. Fridays, Jan. 14, Feb. 4, Feb. 18, March 4, March 18 and April 15.

The programs will feature activities that promote living healthy lifestyles, including lessons on traditional foods, traditional American Indian games, healthy eating habits and more.

Planning the initiative started last fall when Garnet Mountain, manager of Red Lake YouthBuild/AmeriCorps, and Susan Ninham, project coordinator of the Red Lake SHIP program, met to discuss ways their programs could work together, particularly in the area of health and nutrition.

Together they were able to gather other organizations and businesses to participate and plan a reservation-wide initiative that would raise awareness of obesity.

Since September, the collaborative effort has received several grants and donations to fund the initiative. One of the grant received, the UnitedHealth HEROES grant, is a service-learning, health literacy initiative developed by UnitedHealth Group and Youth Service America. The program awards grants to help youth, ages 5-25, create and implement local, hands-on programs to fight childhood obesity.

"We really wanted to address nutrition in the community," Ninham said. "We are trying to engage the community in understanding that nutrition and physical activity go hand-in-hand when reducing body weight."

Ninham said while obesity is prevalent on the reservation, so is the use of tobacco and smoking. She said after researching statistics on the use of tobacco on the reservation, she learned almost eight out of every ten adults smokes. She hopes to also address this issue through the initiative.

A group of youth from the Red Lake, Redby and Ponemah communities helped plan the "Ambe, odaminodaa!" initiative, including naming it.

"This was student-driven," Mountain said.

"We held brainstorming sessions in October, surveyed the students in writing and they helped come up with ideas for the grant activities," Ninham added.

The months in which the "Ambe, odaminodaa!" activities will take place is important to note, Ninham said. The initiative begins on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 17, and ends on Global Youth and Service Day, April 15.

"It is our responsibility as a society to give back to the community that supports you in your daily living," Ninham said. "That part of it was the King emphasis."

For the culminating event in April, Ninham said they have an activity planned where a tribal elder will give cooking lessons on how to make recipes with fish, wild rice and traditional "outdoor bread."

Ninham said her hope is the initiative will increase the number of families choosing to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, engaging in physical activity at least five days a week.

"That will contribute to reducing obesity," she said.

Mountain said he hopes the activities will help young people make good choices in all aspects of their life.

The coordinators of the events set a goal to attract 100 children and 200 community members to each activity night.

"We want to see approximately 300 attendees at minimum," Ninham said. "If we get more than that, that's great."

Ninham said the planners of the initiative purposely designated Friday evenings for the activity nights.

"Friday nights, historically, people go to shop or do chores," she said. "We're hoping that by promoting this on evenings when people generally don't have other events in community to go to, this will be a primary."

Ninham added even though the initiative targets people living on the Red Lake Reservation, the activity nights are open to anyone.

While Mountain and Ninham are pleased to have received the funding to put on the initiative, they admitted feeling a little concerned about the sustainability of the activity nights.

"The hope is we're going to be able to, throughout this process, garner more organizational support within the community," Ninham said. "We want to have the kids really press upon the community how important this is to them."

Ninham said she feels the key to having the initiative make a lasting impression is to make sure the youth are involved in the decision-making process, implementation and evaluation of the activities.

"That was one of the beautiful things that I really like about the (UnitedHealth Heroes) grant," she said. "We are engaging the youth in a great idea for themselves and the community."

For more information, contact Ninham at 218-679-4228 or Mountain at 218-679-3350, extension 118.

Program schedule

- Jan. 14, Ponemah School.

- Feb. 4 and Feb. 18, Boys & Girls Club, Red Lake.

- March 4 and March 18, Ponemah School.

- April 15, Boys & Girls Club, Red Lake.

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