The guiding principle for Native Vision is to cultivate the core strengths, values and positive relationships for American Indian youth that will make them resilient to the prevailing risks and help them transition to healthy, productive and fulfilling adulthood.
Specifically, the goals of Native Vision are to:
- Encourage educational attainment and motivate participants to strive for school-related success;
- Develop participants' leadership capabilities by highlighting the importance of teamwork;
- Foster a strong sense of cultural identity; and
- Improve lifestyle choices.
By focusing on these goals, Native Vision hopes to foster:
- School completion;
- Cultural attachment and personal identity; and
- Healthy lifestyles, including physical fitness, nutrition, and decreased substance use.
Native Vision's core value is that all people are empowered when their capacity is increased to ask their own questions, tell their own stories and make their own choices. Native Vision recognizes and salutes all youth, and in particular those who know that eventually they will become their own role models.
The Native Vision camp is part of a year-round program founded in 1997 at the "Presidents Summit for America's Future" by Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health, the NFL Players Association, and former NFL player Nick Lowery. The leader of the Summit, Ret. Gen. Colin Powell, has since called it, "one of the best initiatives for disadvantaged youth in the country." Native Vision's year-round initiative has been designed to promote three major areas of well being for Native children and families: 1) Healthy Minds, 2) Healthy Bodies, and 3) Healthy Families. Each program area involves a variety of school, community and home-based outreach that have been piloted among five tribes, all of which have hosted previous camps: 1) the White Mountain Apache, 2) the Navajo, 3) the Eastern Shoshone 4) the Northern Arapaho, and 5) Southern Pueblo Tribe of New Mexico. A description of each program arm is provided below:
The goal of "Healthy Minds" is to promote children's intellectual development and educational achievement. Healthy Minds activities have included:
- workshops to train American Indian undergraduate students and teachers to design media campaigns that promote wellness and decrease high risk behaviors of Native student populations across the country;
- youth-generated print, radio and TV campaigns encouraging school attendance and graduation from high school as well as college attendance; and a "Youth Media Action" program that helped young Native American children to advocate for positive changes on their reservations through local media messages.
The goal of "Healthy Bodies" is to increase levels of fitness for children with the aim of reducing diabetes attack rates and obesity as a long-term outcome for this highly susceptible population. Strategies for achieving this goal have included:
- structured after-school recreation programs that track children's levels of fitness and changes in Body-Mass Index (BMI);
- a youth summer camp to sustain progress made during the school year; and
- the start-up of recreational sports leagues to help kids get fit and stay out of trouble on weekends and in non-school hours.
A fourth strategy that Native Vision's partners aim to develop is youth-produced mass media campaigns that feature 'Stay Fit' messages from Native Vision's professional athlete-mentors and Native American role models.
The goal of Healthy Families is to strengthen vulnerable families and improve health and life outcomes for young American Indian parents and their children. Current strategies include:
- a home-visiting and case management program for at-risk parents featuring Hopkins-trained, local field workers;
- media campaigns to promote positive parenting; and
- work-force development and education promotion for young parents to reduce major barriers to family well-being.
This intervention is currently in full swing on the Navajo and White Mountain Apache reservations, and more than 1,000 families have received a year of weekly home-based education since its inception in 1997.
Native Vision Annual Summer Camp
Native Vision's annual summer camp provides an opportunity to celebrate all that is positive in the present and future lives of Native youth. This year there will be six different sports clinics that children can choose: basketball, football, soccer, cross country, lacrosse and volleyball. The professional athletes who conduct the Native Vision sports clinics intersperse their athletic teachings with breakout sessions that promote empowerment, discipline, teamwork and the pursuit of education. Meanwhile, members of our tribe are currently involved in planning events and feasts to be held at the camp that will promote cultural pride and traditional strengths for the youth who attend.